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Title: That Which Hath Wings
Author: Dehan, Richard
Language: English
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[Illustration: Cover art]

[Illustration: "His arm was round her, her cheek was pressed to his, her
bosom heaved against him."]

                            *THAT WHICH HATH

                           A NOVEL OF THE DAY


                             RICHARD DEHAN


             "_For a bird of the air shall carry the mice,
                    and that which hath wings shall
                 tell the matter._"—ECCLESIAS. x., 20.

                              S. B. GUNDY

                            COPYRIGHT, 1918
                          G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS

                   The Knickerbocker Press, New York

                            THESE LEAVES IN
                            DEAR REMEMBRANCE
                             FOR YOUR GRAVE
                            ACROSS THE SEA.

       _January_, 1918.




                        *That Which Hath Wings*

                              *CHAPTER I*

                      *PRESENTS TWO YOUNG PEOPLE*

In January, 1914, Francis Athelstan Sherbrand, Viscount Norwater, only
son of that fine old warrior, General the Right Honourable Roger
Sherbrand, V.C., K.C.B., first Earl of Mitchelborough, married Margot
Mountjohn, otherwise known as "Kittums," and found that she was
wonderfully innocent—for a girl who knew so much.

It was a genuine love-match, Franky being a comparatively poor
Guardsman, with only two thousand a year in addition to his pay as a
Second Lieutenant in the Royal Bearskins Plain, and Margot a mere
Cinderella in comparison with heiresses of the American canned-provision
and cereal kind.

It had seemed to Franky, standing with patent-leathered feet at the
Rubicon dividing bachelorhood from Benedictism, that all his wooing had
been done at Margot’s Club.  True, he had actually proposed to Margot at
the Royal Naval and Military Tournament of the previous June, and
Margot, hysterical with sheer ecstasy, as the horses gravely played at
push-ball, had pinched his arm and gasped out:

"_Yes_, but don’t take my mind off the game just now; these dear beasts
are so _heavenly_! ..."

And theatres, film-picture-shows and variety halls, race-meetings,
receptions, balls and kettledrums, polo and croquet-clubs, had fostered
the courtship of Franky and Margot; but all their love-making had been
carried out to the accompanying hum of conversation and the tinkle of
crystal and silver-plate in the dining-room of the "Ladies’ Social,"
where Margot had her favourite table in the glass-screened corner by the
fire-place; or in the circular smoking-room with the Persian divan and
green-glass dome, that Margot had given the Club on her nineteenth
birthday; or in the boudoir belonging to the suite she had decorated for
herself on the condition that no other member got the rooms if Margot
wanted them, which Margot nearly always did....

There was a big, rambling, ancient red-brick Hall, stone-faced in the
Early Jacobean manner, standing with its rare old gardens and
glass-houses, lawns and shrubberies, about it, within sight and sound of
the Channel, amidst pine and beech-woods carpeted with bilberry-bushes,
heathery moors, and coverts neck-high in July with the _Osmunda regalis_
fern.  The Hall belonged to Margot, though you never found her there
except for a week or two in September and three days at Christmas-tide.
The first fortnight with the birds was well enough, but those three days
at Christmas marked the limit.  Of human endurance Margot meant,
possibly.  She never vouchsafed to explain.

She also possessed a house in town, but just as her deceased father’s
spinster sister lived at the Hall in Devonshire, so did her dead
mother’s brother Derek, with his collection of European moths and
butterflies and other _Lepidoptera_, inhabit the fine old mansion in
Hanover Square. Devonshire at Christmas marked the limit of dulness, but
Hanover Square all the London season through beat the band for sheer
ghastly boredom....  Not that there were any flies on little old
London....  Paris and Ostend were ripping places, and you could put in a
clinking good time at Monte Carlo....  Margot had tried New York and
liked it, except for the place itself, which made you think of
illustrations to weird Dunsany legends in which towering temples climb
up unendingly upon each other into black star-speckled skies.  But the
Club and London, with Unlimited Bridge and Tango, constituted Margot’s
idea of earthly happiness.  She never had dreamed of marrying
anybody—until Franky had arrived on the scene.

Perhaps you can see Franky, with the wholesome tan of the Autumn
Manoeuvres yet upon him.  Twenty-seven, well-made and muscular, if with
somewhat sloping shoulders and legs of the type that look better in
Bedford cords and puttees, or leathers and hunting-tops, than in tweed
knickers and woollen stockings, or Court knee-breeches and silks.
Observe his well-shaped feet and slight strong hands with pointed
fingers, like those of his ancestors, painted by Vandyke; his brown
eyes—distinctly good if not glowing with the fire of intellect, his
forehead too steep and narrow; his moustache of the regulation
tooth-brush kind, adorning the upper-lip that will not shut down firmly
over his white, rather prominent, front teeth.  Cap the small rounded
skull of him with bright brown hair, brushed and anointed to astonishing
sleekness, dress him in the full uniform of a Second Lieutenant in the
Bearskins Plain, and you have Franky on his wedding-day.

Photographs of the happy couple published in the _Daily Wire_, the
_Weekly Silhouette_, the _Lady’s Dictatorial_, and the _Photographic
Smile_, hardly do the bridegroom justice.  In that without the busby his
features are fixed in a painful grin, while in the other there are no
features at all.  But Margot—Margot in a hobble-skirt of satin and
chiffon, with a tulle turban-veil, starred with orange-flowers in pearls
and diamonds, and a long serpent-tail train of silver brocade, hung from
her shoulders by ropes of pearls, was "almost too swee," to quote
Margot’s Club friends.  Search had been made, amongst the said friends,
many of whom were married, for a pair of five-year-old pages to carry
the bride’s train; but there being, for some reason, a dearth of babies
among Margot’s wedded intimates, the idea had to be given up.

The wedding was quite the prettiest function of the season. The eight
bridesmaids walked in moss-green _crêpe de Chine_ veiled with
silver-spotted chiffon.  On their heads were skull-caps of silver
tissue, each having a thirty-inch-high aigrette supported by a thin
_bandeau_ of gold, set with crystals and olivines, the gift of the
bride....  Their stockings were of white lace openwork, the left knee of
each being clasped by the bridegroom’s souvenir, a garter of gold,
crystal, and olivines.  Silver slippers with four-inch heels completed
the ravishing effect.

_O Perfect Love!_ was sung before the Bishop’s Address, and the ceremony
concluded with _The Voice that Breathed_ and Stainer’s _Sevenfold Amen_.
The bridal-party passed down the nave to the strains of the Wedding
Chorus from _Lohengrin_.  And there was a reception at the Werkeley
Square house of one of the dearest of Margot’s innumerable dearest
friends, and the happy pair left in their beautiful brand-new
Winston-Beeston touring car _en route_ for the old red-brick Hall in
Devonshire.  Decidedly the honeymoon might have been termed ideal—and
four subsequent months of married life proved tolerably cloudless—until
Fate sent a stinging hailstorm to strip the roses from the bridal bower.

An unexpected, appalling, inevitable discovery was made in Paris in the
_Grande Semaine_, at the end of the loveliest of June seasons.  It
utterly ruined—for two people—the Day of the Grand Prix, that marks the
climax of the Big Week, when the Parisian coaching-world tools its
four-in-hands to Longchamps Racecourse, and the smartest, richest, and
gayest people, mustered from every capital of Europe, parade under the
chestnut-trees that shade the sunny paddock, to display or criticise the
creations of the greatest _couturiers_.

Margot had put on an astonishing gown for the occasion.... You will
recall that the summer dress designs of 1914 _were_ astonishing; the
autumn modes promised to be even more so, according to Babin, Touchet,
and the Brothers Paillôt.  Skirts—already as short and as narrow as
possible—were to be even narrower; the Alpha and Omega of perfection
would be represented by the Amphora Silhouette.  And Margot, revolving
before her cheval-glass in a sheath of jonquil-coloured silk _lisse_,
embroidered with blue-and-green beetle-wings, found—to her horror and

Shall one phrase it that Dame Nature, intent upon her essential,
unfashionable business of reproduction, was at variance with Madame
Fashion _re_ the Amphora Silhouette? The slender shape was not yet
spoilt, but long before the autumn came, no art would mask the wealthy
curves of its maternity.

                              *CHAPTER II*

                        *DAME NATURE INTERVENES*

"I can’t bear it!—I won’t bear it!" Margot reiterated. With her tumbled
hair, swollen eyes, pink uptilted nose, and the little mouth and chin
that quivered with each sobbing breath intaken, she looked absurdly
babyish for her twenty years, as she vowed that wild horses shouldn’t
drag her to Longchamps, and railed against the injustice of Fate.

"None of my married friends have had such rotten luck!" she asserted.
She stamped upon the velvety carpet and flashed at Franky a glance of
imperious appeal.  "Not Tota Stannus, or Cynthia Charterhouse, or Joan
Delabrand, or anybody!  Then, why me?  That’s what I want to know? After
all the mascots I’ve worn and carried about with me....  Gojo and
Jollikins and the jade tree-frog, and the rest! ... Every single one
given me by a different woman who’d been married for years and never had
a baby! This very day I’ll smash the whole lot!"

"By the Great Brass Hat! ..."

Franky exploded before he could stop himself, and laughed until the
tears coursed down.  So "Gojo," the black velvet kitten, and
"Jollikins," the fat, leering, naked thing that sat and squinted over
its pot-belly at its own huge, shapeless feet, and all the array of
gadgets and netsukis crowding Margot’s toilette-table and _secrétaire_,
down to "Pat-Pat," the bog-oak pig, and "Ti-Ti," the jade tree-frog,
were so many insurances against the Menace of Maternity.  By Jove! women
were regular children.... And Margot ... Nothing but a baby, this poor
little Margot—going, in spite of Jollikins and Gojo, to have a baby of
her own.

"What is one to believe?  Whom is one to trust in? ..."

"’Trust in.’ ... My best child, you don’t mean that you believed those
women when they told you that such twopenny gadgets could work charms
of—that or any other kind?"

"Indeed, indeed they do!  Tota Stannus was _perfectly serious_ when she
came to my boudoir one night at the Club, about a week before our—the
wedding....  She said—I can hear her now; ’_Well, old child, you’re to
be married on Wednesday, and of course you know the ropes well enough
not to want any tips from me....  Still——’_"

"That wasn’t overwhelmingly flattering," Franky commented, "from a
married woman twice your age.  What else did she say?"

"She said I must be aware," went on Margot, "that a woman who wanted to
keep her friends and her figure, simply couldn’t afford to have kids."

"And you——"

Franky no longer battled with the grin that would have infuriated
Margot.  Something had wiped it from his face.

"I said she was frightfully kind, but that I was quite
well-posted—everything was O.K., and she needn’t alarm herself....  And
she said, ’Oh! if you’ve arranged things with Franky, jolly sensible of
him!  Too often a man who is open and liberal-minded before marriage
develops gerontocracie afterwards, don’t you know? ...’  And I told her
that you were the very reverse of narrow-minded—and she kissed me and
wished me happiness, and went away.  And the maid knocked later on to
say Mrs. Stannus sent her apologies for having forgotten to leave her
little gift.  And the little gift was, Jollikins.  And my special pals
joined in to stand me a farewell dinner, and they drowned my enamel Club
badge in a bowl of Maraschino punch, and fished it up and gave me this
diamond and enamel one, mounted as a tie-brooch, instead.  And every
married woman brought me a mascot....  I had Gojo from Joan Delabrand,
and Ti-Ti from Cynthia Charterhouse, and the jade tree-frog from Patrine
Saxham, and the carved African bean from Rhona Helvellyn, and——"

Franky objected:

"Neither Patrine Saxham nor Rhona Helvellyn happen to be married women!"

"Perhaps not; but Patrine is an Advanced Thinker, and Rhona Helvellyn is
a Militant Suffragist."

Franky commented:

"As for Suffragists, that Club of yours is stiff with ’em. Gassing about
their Cause....  I loathe the noisy crowd!"

"Then you loathe me!  I share their convictions!" Margot proclaimed.  "I
hold the faith that Woman’s Day will dawn with the passing of the Bill
that gives us the Vote...."

"My best child, you wouldn’t know what to do with the Vote if you had

Margot retorted:

"I cannot expect my husband to treat me as a reasonable being while the
State classes his wife with infants and imbeciles."

It will be seen that a very pretty squabble was on the point of
developing.  Fortunately, at this juncture a valet of the chambers
knocked at the door to say that a waiter from the restaurant begged to
know whether Milord and Miladi would take lunch _à la carte_, or prefer
something special in their own apartments?

"Tell him no!" wailed Miladi, to the unconcealed consternation of
Milord, who had a healthy appetite.

"Must keep up your pecker—never say die!"  Franky, stimulated by the
pangs of hunger, developed an unsuspected talent for diplomacy.  "Look
here!  We must talk over things quietly and calmly.  I’ll order a taxi,
and we’ll chuff to that jolly little restaurant in the Bois de
Boulogne—where you can grub in the open air under a rose-pergola—and
order something special and odd——"

Since Eve’s day, this lure has never failed to catch a woman.  Margot
began to dry her eyes.  Then she asked Franky to ring.

"Three times, please....  That’s for Pauline; I want another

"Have two or three while you’re about it," advised Franky, obeying,
returning, and perching on the arm of the settee.  "And bathe your eyes
a bit, have a swab-over of the pinky cream-stuff, and a dab of powder."
He brushed some pale mealy traces from his right-arm sleeve and
coat-lapel, ending, "And put on your swankiest hat and come along to

"Could we get anything to eat at Nadier’s that we couldn’t get here—or
in London, at the Tarlton or the Rocroy? ..."

"Stacks of things!  For instance—_Canard à la presse_.... They squeeze
the juice out of the duck, you twig, with a silver kind of squozzer, and
cook it on a chafing-dish under your nose.  Look here! ..."  Franky, now
desperate, produced his watch.  "All the cushiest little tables will be
taken if you don’t look sharp."

"Not on the day of the Grand Prix!"

Franky retorted, spurred to maddest invention by the pangs of hunger:

"My best child, there are about a hundred thousand wealthy Americans in
Paris who don’t care a red cent about racing, while with most of ’em—to
eat _canard à la presse_ at Nadier’s in the Bois de Boulogne in the June
season—is a—kind of religious rite!"

So Margot disappeared to dab her eyes and apply the prescribed touches
of perfumed cream and powder, and duly reappeared, crowned with the most
marvellous hat that ever promenaded the _ateliers_ of the Maison Blin on
the head of a milliner’s _mannequin_.

You are to imagine the tiny thing and her Franky seated—not in one of
the smart automobiles that wait for hire outside Spitz’s, but in a
little red taxi, borne along with the broad double stream of traffic of
every description that ceaselessly roared east and west under the now
withering red-and-white blossoms of the chestnut-trees of the Avenue of
the Champs Elysées, inhaling the stimulating breezes—flavoured with hot
dust and petrol, Seine stink, sewer-gas, coffee, patchouli, fruit, Régie
tobacco and roses—of Paris in the end of June.

All the world and his wife might be at Longchamps, but here were people
enough and to spare.  Luxurious people in costly automobiles or
carriages drawn by shiny high-steppers.  People in little public taxis,
men and women on motor-bicycles and the human-power kind.  People of all
stamps and classes, clustered like bees outside the big, smelly,
top-heavy auto-buses, soon to vanish from the Paris avenues and
boulevards, with the red and yellow and green-flagged taxis, to play
their part in the transport and nourishment of the Army of France.
People of all ranks and classes on foot, though as of old the
_midinette_ with her big cardboard bandbax, the military cadet, or the
student of Art or Medicine, the seminarist and the shaggy-haired and
bearded man with the deadly complexion, the slouch hat, the aged
_paletôt_ and the soiled and ragged crimson necktie that distinguish the
milder breed of Anarchist, made up the crowd upon the sidewalks,
liberally peppered with the sight-seeing stranger of British, American,
or Teuton nationality—the brilliantly-complexioned, gaily-plumaged,
loudly-perfumed lady of the pavements; the gendarme and the National
Guard, and—with Marie or Jeannette proudly hanging on his elbow—Rosalie
in her black-leather scabbard dangling by his side, his crimson _képi_
tilted rakishly—the blue-coated, red-trousered French infantryman, the
_poilu_ whom we have learned to love.

The Bois was not seething with fashionable life as it would be towards
the sunset hour.  The dandy Clubmen, the smart ladies, had gone to
Longchamps with the four-in-hands. Polo was going on near the Pont de
Suresnes, the band of a regiment of Cuirassiers was playing in the
Jardin d’Acclimatation, and Hungarian zithers and violins discoursed
sweet music on a little gilded platform at the axial point of Nadier’s
open-air restaurant—which is shaped like a half-wheel, with pergolas of
shower-roses and Crimson Ramblers radiating from the gilded band-stand
to the outer circle of little white tables at which one can lunch or
dine in fine weather under a light screen of leaves and blossoms,
beneath which the green canvas awnings can be drawn when it comes on to

The tables were crowded with French people taking late _déjeuner_, and
English, Germans, and German-Americans having lunch.  The gravelled
courtyard before the terrace was packed with showy automobiles.

If _canard à la presse_ did not grace the meal supplied to Franky and
Margot on Nadier’s terrace, the _potage printanière_ and _écrevisses_
and a _blanquette d’agneau_ were exquisitely cooked and served.
Asparagus and a salad of endive followed, and by the time they had
emptied a bottle of Chateau Yquem and the _omelette soufflée_ had given
place to _Pêches Melba_, Margot had smiled several times and laughed

She was so dainty and sweet, so brilliant a little human humming-bird,
that the laughing, chattering, feasting crowd of smartly or
extravagantly dressed people gathered about the other trellis-screened
tables under Nadier’s rose-pergola sent many a curious or admiring
glance her way.  And Franky was very proud of his young wife, and theirs
had been undeniably a love-match; yet in spite of the good dishes and
the excellent Château Yquem, little shivers of chilly premonition
rippled over him from time to time.  He had got to speak out—definitely
decline, in the interests of Posterity, to permit interference on the
part of Margot’s Club circle in his private domestic affairs....  How to
do it effectively yet inoffensively was a problem that strained his
brain-capacity.  Yet—again in the interests of Posterity—Franky had
never previously interested himself in Posterity—the thing had to be
done.  He refused Roquefort, buttered a tiny biscuit absently, put it
down undecidedly, and as the waiter whisked his plate away—conjured
crystal bowls of tepid rose-water and other essentials from space, and
vanished in search of dessert—he spoke, assuming for the first time in
his five months’ experience of connubial life the toga of marital

"I think, do you know, Kittums"—Kittums was Margot’s pet name—"that it
will be best to face the music!"

"_Connu!_" Margot shrugged a little, widely opening her splendid brown
eyes, "But what music?"

"The"—Franky took the plunge—"the cradle-music, if you will have it!"

Margot’s gasp of dismay, and the indignant fire of a stare that was
quenched in brine, awakened Franky to the fact of his having failed in
tactics.  The return of the waiter with a pyramid of superb strawberries
and a musk-melon on cracked ice alone stemmed the outburst of the
pent-up flood of reproach.  Entrenched behind the melon, Franky waited.
The waiter again effaced himself, and Margot said from behind another

"Oh, how _could_ you! ... I never _dreamed_ that I should _live_ to hear
you speak to me in that way."

Over the melon, whose rough green quartered rind had delicate white
raised traceries all over it, suggesting outline maps of countries in
Fairyland, Franky curiously regarded his wife.  He said:

"Why are you and all your friends so funky of—what’s only a natural
phe—what do you call it? ... What do men and women marry for, if it
isn’t to have—children? ... Perhaps you’ll answer me?"

"What do people marry for?"  Margot regarded him indignantly over the
neglected pyramid of luscious, tempting strawberries, "To—to be happy
together—to have a clinking time!"  Her voice shook.  "And this is to be
a gorgeous season.  Balls—balls! right on from now to the end of
July—then from the autumn all through winter. Period Costume Balls,
reviving the modes, music, and manners of Ancient
Civilisations—Carthagenian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Gothic—got up and
arranged by the Committees of the Cercle Moderne, here in Paris, and in
London by the New Style Club....  Tony Guisseguignol and Paul Peigault
and their set are busy designing the dresses and decorations—nothing
like them will ever have been seen!  And—Peigault says—Tango and the
Maxixe are to be chucked to the little cabbages.  A new dance is coming
from São Paulo that will simply wipe them out....  And now—just when I
was looking forward—when everything was to have been so splendid——"

The shaking voice choked upon a note of anguish. Franky had picked up
the melon, quite unconsciously, and was balancing it.  At this juncture
he gripped the green globe with both hands, and said, summoning all his
courage to meet the agonised appeal of Margot’s tear-drenched eyes:

"Look here.  This is—strict Bridge....  Do you loathe ’em—the kiddies—so
horribly that the idea of having any is hateful to you?  Or is it—not
only the—the veto it puts on larking and kickabout and—the temporary
disfigurement—you’re afraid of—but the—the—the inevitable pain?"  He
glanced round cautiously and looked back again at his wife, saying in a
low voice: "Nobody’s listening....  Tell me frankly...."  He waited an
instant, and then said in an urgent whisper.  "Answer me! ... For God’s
sake, tell the frozen truth, Margot!"

                             *CHAPTER III*

                        *FAIR ROSAMOND’S CHOICE*

The terrace under Nadier’s roses—dotted with little tables covered with
napery, silver, crystal, and china, surrounded with laughing, chattering
feasters—the terrace was no longer a scene out of a comedy of the
lighter side of Parisian life.... Tragedy, pale and awe-inspiring in her
ink-black mantle and purple chiton, had stepped across the gravel in her
gold-buckled leather buskins, to offer to the girlish bride—a piece of
human porcelain, prinked in the height of the fashion, and lovely—with
her wild-rose cheeks and little uptilted nose, her floss-silk hair and
wide, dark, lustrous deer-eyes—Fair Rosamond’s choice, the dagger or the

"Yes—yes....  It is the ugliness of the thing! ..."  The little mouth
was pulled awry as though it had sipped of verjuice.  The tiny hands
knotted themselves convulsively, and the colour fled in terror from her
face.  "The grotesque ugliness....  And the"—the last two words came as
though a pang had wrung them from the pale lips—"the pain—the awful
pain!  And besides—my mother died when I was born!"  Margot’s voice was
a fluttering, appealing whisper; her great eyes were dilated and wild
with terror. "Perhaps that is why I am so deadly afraid"—she caught her
breath—"but there are heaps, heaps, _heaps_ of married women who
fear—_that_—equally!  And they arrange to escape it—I don’t know how!
... For I knew—nothing—when I married you! ..."  She lifted her great
eyes to Franky’s, and he realised that it had been so, actually.  "I’ve
been ashamed ever to confess that I was—ignorant about these things! ...
I’ve talked a language—amongst other women—that I didn’t understand!

There are moments when even the shallow-brained become clairvoyant.
Franky’s love for her made him see clear.  He looked back down the vista
of Margot’s twenty years of existence, and saw her the motherless
daughter of a self-absorbed, cultivated, Art-loving valetudinarian, who
habitually spent the chillier part of each year in ranging from French
to Italian health-resorts, occupying the spring with Art in
Paris—returning to London for June and July, generally spending August
and September in Devonshire—to take flight Southwards before the
migrating swallows, at the first chill breath of October frosts.

Margot had been educated at home, down in Devonshire, by a series of
certificated female tutors.  The spinster aunt, the younger sister of
her father, extended to her niece for a liberal remuneration a nominal
protection and an indifferent care....  And Mr. Mountjohn had died when
the girl was sixteen, leaving her unconditionally heiress to his
considerable fortune, and the aunt had let Margot have her head in every
imaginable way.  She had allowed her to take up her residence at the
"Ladies’ Social" Club three years subsequently, on the sole condition
that a responsible chaperon accompanied Margot to Society functions.
Hence, Mrs. Ponsonby Rewes, the irreproachable widow of a late King’s
Messenger, was evoked from Kensington Tower Mansions upon these
occasions—by telephone—to vanish when no longer wanted, in the
discreetest and most obliging way.

"Poor little Margot! .... Poor little woman!..."  Franky could see how
it all had happened by the wild light of the great deer-eyes, so like
those in the portrait of the girl’s dead mother—half Irish, half Greek
by birth.

While Franky reflected, the tables had been emptying. People were
hurrying away to hear the band of the Jardin d’Acclimatation or to
fulfil other engagements of a seasonable kind.  Some remained to smoke
and gossip over liqueurs and coffee.  The light blue wreaths of cigar
and cigarette smoke curled up towards the awning overhead. Franky
mechanically produced his own case and lighted up. And Margot,
stretching a slender arm across the table, was saying:

"Give me one!—I’ve forgotten mine! ..."

"Ought you? ... Is it wise? ..."  Franky was on the point of asking, but
his good Angel must have clapped a hand before his mouth.  He silently
gave Margot a thick, masculine Sobranie and supplied a light; and as
their young faces neared and the red spark glowed, and the first
smoke-wreath rose between the approximating tubes of delicate
tobacco-filled paper, his wife whispered as their eyes met:

"You’re hurt!  But now you know—you’re sorry for me, aren’t you?"  It
was a dragging, plaintive undertone, not at all like Margot’s voice.

"Frightfully!  All the more because"—Franky drew so hard at his
cigarette that it burned one-sidedly—"I can’t help being

"I—see! ..."

She breathed out the words with a thin stream of fragrant Turkish vapour
crawling over her scarlet under-lip, it seemed to Franky, like a pale
blue worm.  And he bit through his Sobranie and threw it on his
dessert-plate, saying desperately:

"Not yet.  Will you listen quietly to what I’ve got to say?"

She nodded.  Franky launched himself upon the tide of revelation.
Nearly everybody who had been eating when he had come into Nadier’s with
Margot had got up and gone away.  And the Cuirassiers band was playing
the love-music from _Samson et Dalila_ on the terrace of the Jardin
d’Acclimatation, as melodiously as only a French military band can play.

"It’s got to do with the Peerage.  Only a Second Afghan War-Earldom
dating from 1879—tacked on to the Viscounty they gave my
great-grandfather after Badajos—but worth having in its way, or the Dad
wouldn’t have accepted it.  And, naturally enough—I want a boy to take
the Viscounty when I succeed my father, and have the Earldom when I’ve
absquatulated, just as the kiddy’ll want one when his own time comes."

Margot was burning a strawberry-leaf on her plate with her
cigarette-end.  She asked, impressing another little yellow scorched
circle on the surface of rough green:

"Would it matter so very much if there wasn’t any boy?"

Franky jumped and turned red to the white, unsunned circle left by the
field-cap on the summit of his high forehead.

"It would matter—lots!  For my Uncle Sherbrand, a younger brother of my
father’s, would come in for the Viscounty when I succeeded the dear old
Dad.  And my Uncle Sherbrand is a blackguard!  Got cashiered in 1900,
when he was an Artillery officer in a gun-testing billet at Wanwich.
Kicked out of the Army—in War-time, mind you!—for not backing up his
C.O.  And the brute has got a son, too, an apprentice in an engine-shop,
if he isn’t actually a chauffeur.  Probably the young fellow’s
respectable, and of course it ain’t the pup’s fault he’s got such a
sire.  But my Dad would turn in his grave at the idea of being succeeded
by the brother who disgraced him—and as for _his_ grandfather—the jolly
old cock ’ud bally well get up and dance, I should say....  So, you see,
I can’t—sympathise with you as you want me to do in this, darling!  I
want you to buck up and be cheerful, and face the music like a brick....
As for what you’ve told me—about your mother——"  In spite of himself,
Franky gulped, and little shiny beads of sweat stood upon his cheeks and
temples. "That sort of thing doesn’t run in families, like
rheumatism"—he was getting idiotic—"or Roman noses!  Be plucky—and
everything will turn out all right.  Can’t possibly go wrong if we call
in Saxham ... Saxham of 000, Harley Street—man my sister Trix simply
swears by.  Brought her boy Ronald into the world thirteen years ago,
and successfully operated on him for appendicitis only the other day!

Margot looked at Franky attentively and bent her head slightly.  Had she
understood?  She must have.... Had she tacitly agreed?  Of course....

                              *CHAPTER IV*

                       *RAYMOND OF THE S. AË. F.*

The Masculine Will had conquered.  You had only to be firm with
women—bless their hearts! and they caved directly....  Couldn’t hold
out....  Not built that way....  Franky’s sternly-clamped upper-lip
relaxed. He beamed as he proposed a noonday stroll in the Bois.  In the
direction of the bigger Lake, by one of the narrower avenues, or if
Margot preferred a look-in at the Polo Club, another avenue,
intersecting the Allée de Longchamps and skirting the enclosure of the
Gun Club, would take them there in a jiffy, _via_ Bagatelle.

Margot assented to the latter proposition, and, with a little flutter of
the lips Franky accepted as a smile, reached for her egret stole, a
filmy feathery thing she had removed on entering Nadier’s, and drew on
her long mousquetaire gloves and pulled down her veil of sunset
_chiffon_, half shaded red, merging into jonquil yellow matching the
shade of her marvellous gown.  And Franky paid the bill in plump English
sovereigns (invariably exchanged as good for louis of twenty francs by
the suave and smiling waiter) and tipped the said waiter extravagantly,
and took his hat from the second waiter (who invariably starts up by the
side of the first when you are going) and tipped him, and got his stick
from the third waiter (who came forward with this, and the _en tout cas_
of Madame—a lovely thing in the latest dome-shape, of black net over
jonquil colour, with a flounce, and an ivory stick, upon the top of
which sat a green monkey in olivines, eating a ruby fruit), and lighted
another cigarette, and returned the elaborate bow of the manager with a
nod of the cheerful patronising order as he followed Margot through the
Rambler-wreathed archway leading by a flight of shallow steps from
Nadier’s terrace to the wide carriage-sweep that links the broad Allée
de Longchamps with the narrower Route de Madrid.  And the towering plume
of her astonishing hat brought down a shower of red rose-petals as she
passed out before him—and Franky, with some of these on his top-hat-brim
and others nestling in the front of his waistcoat, was irresistibly
reminded of their wedding-day.

Unconsciously, Franky and Margot quitted the broader, more frequented
avenue, crowded with people in carriages, people in automobiles, people
on motor-bicycles and bicyclettes, and followed narrower pathways,
stretching between green lawns adorned with shrubberies and clumps of
stately forest trees, and chiefly patronised by sweethearting couples,
nursemaids in charge of children, children in domineering but
affectionate charge of white-haired ladies, while venerable gentlemen
dozed on rustic benches over the columns of _Figaro_ or _Paris Midi_.

When even these figures became rare, it was borne in upon Franky that he
and Margot were not upon a path that led to the Grounds of the Polo
Club.  Reluctantly, he admitted himself lost.

"Does it matter? ..."  Margot’s voice was weary. "If you’re absolutely
set on it, we could ask one of those men in cocked hats and waxed
moustaches and red-and-yellow shoulder-cords to give us the straight
tip.  But I don’t feel the least bit keen about the Polo Club any more
than the Lakes.  These alleys are quiet, and the grass is nice and
green.  I vote we go on."

"Madame cannot pass this way.  It is not open for strangers."

A Republican Guard, a good-looking _sous-officier_, had spoken,
comprehending the tone rather than the English words.

"Why not?"  Margot’s eyes suddenly brightened.  She eagerly sniffed the
air of the forbidden avenue.  The corporal, indicating with his
white-gloved hand other Republican Guards posted at equal distances down
the prohibited alley, and at its intersection with another some two
hundred yards distant, brought his eyes back to Margot to answer:

"Madame, for the reason that certain military operations are taking
place here to-day."

"But my husband is an English officer—" Margot was beginning, when
Franky, reddening to his hat-brim, exhorted her to be quiet, and the
Republican Guard, civilly saluting, stepped upon the grass and moved

"All the same, you are an English officer," Margot persisted, "and what
use is the Entente if that doesn’t count?"

"Best child, don’t be a giddy goose!" Franky implored her.  "You don’t
suppose the Authorities care a bad tomato for an English Loot—what
they’d cotton to would have to be a British Brass Hat of the very
biggest kind. Look there!—more to your left, little battums!"  He
indicated yet other Republican cocked hats strung at equal distances
down the length of a neighbouring alley, precisely outlining the farther
border of the sandwich-shaped halfacre of greensward by which their
particular avenue ran. "And there!"  His professional eye had noted a
big, grey-painted military motor-lorry, numbered, and lettered "S. Aë.
F."  Behind the driver’s seat towered the slender T-shaped steel mast of
a Field wireless, whose spidery aerials, pegged to the turf, were in
charge of men in _képis_ and blue overalls, while a non-commissioned
officer, wearing the telephone head-band of the operator, leaned on the
elbow-rest of the tripod supporting the apparatus, his finger on the
buzzer-key.  Near him his clerk squatted, pencil and pad in readiness,
while at a respectful distance from two oblong patches of white in the
middle of the green plat of turf, several active upright figures in dark
uniforms stood conversing, or walking to and fro.

"_Officiers Aviateurs_, telegraphists and mechanics of the French
_Service Aëronautique_"—you are listening to Franky—"tremendously
well-organised compared with our little footling Flying Corps, tinkered
fourteen months ago out of the old Air Battalion of the R. E.  These
chaps are Engineers—goin’ by the dark red double stripes on their
overalls and their dark blue _képis_.  Some of their machines’ll be out
for practice.  Despatch-droppin’ or bombs.  Here’s a man with brass on
his hat, coming our way....  Takes me for a German soger-orficer I
shouldn’t wonder!—lots of ’em get their clothes cut in Bond Street.  But
though you can hide Allemand legs in English trousers"—Franky was
recovering his customary cheeriness—"and some of ’em do it uncommon
cleverly—you can’t deodorise an accent that hails from Berlin."

The officer approaching—a youthful, upright figure walking quickly, with
the short, springy steps of a man much in the saddle—proved to be
grey-haired and grey-moustached. The double-winged badge of his Service
was embroidered in gold upon the right sleeve of his tunic, and upon the
collar, a single wing in this case, ending in a star.  He carried
binoculars suspended from his neck by a rolled-leather thong, and a
revolver in a black-leather case was attached to the belt about his
middle.  There was thick white dust upon the legs and uppers of his high
polished black boots, which the grass had scoured from the toes and
soles.  His bright blue-grey eyes ran over Franky as the slight
soldierly salute was exchanged.  He said, speaking in excellent English:

"If Monsieur, the English officer, will obligingly mention his name,
rank, and regiment, it might be possible to allow him to continue his
promenade with Madame, the invention we are testing being the patent of
his countryman, and already familiar to the Authorities at the British
War Office."

Thus coerced, Franky produced his card, Margot dimpled into smiles, the
polite officer saluted again, introduced himself as Raymond,
Capitaine-Commandant pilot of the —th _escadrille_, wheeled and walked
away.  But he returned to say, this time directly addressing Margot:

"Should Madame la Vicomtesse desire to witness the test of her
countryman’s—apparatus, there can be no objection to her doing so.  But
that Madame should keep clear of the vicinity of the"—he pointed to the
two oblong strips of white canvas adorning the middle of the expanse of
green,—"the signal, intended for the guidance of the aviator, is of
absolute necessity, Madame must understand!"

"There won’t be any...?" Margot was beginning, nervously.

"_Mais non, Madame_.  _Pas d’explosion_," the officer assured her, and
stiffened to attention facing eastwards, and scanning the sky with eyes
that blinked in the dazzling glare of early noon.  For the droning whirr
of a plane just then reached them, drowning the sign of the hot south
breeze that rustled in the tops of the acacias and oaks, ilexes and
poplars, that rose about the arena of open ground....

                              *CHAPTER V*

                           *THE BIRD OF WAR*

"The _avion_ comes from Drancy."  The speaker looked back at Margot as
he focussed his binoculars.  "It is not one of our Army machines, but a
British monoplane built by your countryman and fitted with the invention
whose usefulness we are here to test."  He continued: "Should the
_officier-pilote_ in charge of the—apparatus—and who for the time being
represents an enemy—succeed in poising"—he hesitated a bare instant—"for
a stipulated number of moments over the target—those two lengths of
white canvas approximating on the grass represent the target—he scores a

He blinked a little, and before Franky’s mental vision rose the
aggregation of Government buildings near the _Carrefour des Cascades_,
marked "_Magazins et depôts_" on Bædeker’s maps.

"He scores a bull’s eye," resumed the speaker.  "He has already paid one
visit of the requisite duration to an address near the Porte
d’Aubervilliers."  Franky had a mental vision of the array of big,
bloated gasometers pertaining to the Strasbourg Railway Yards.  "He has
made a similar call at a point indicated between the station of the
Batignolles and the station of the Avenue de Clichy"—the well-preserved
teeth of the officer showed under the grey moustache as he smiled, and
Franky had another vision of the huge _Gare aux Marchandises_ tucked in
the angle between the Railway of the Geinture and the Western Railway
lines, as the speaker went on suavely "and the target succeeding this
will be the last.  It is situated on the Champ de Manoeuvres at Issy.
The wireless-telegraph operator of my _escadrille_ informs me that two
bull’s eyes have already been registered—which for your countryman’s
invention presages well."

Franky, with British plumpness, queried:

"And the invention?  Some new bomb-dropping device—planned to get rid of
the way the engine always puts on ’em?  If the English inventor-fellow
has done that, his goods are worth buying, I should say!"

Raymond, _Capitaine-Commandant_, answered as the droning song from the
sky grew louder:

"Of certainty, Monsieur, if his invention prove worth buying, my
Government will undoubtedly purchase what has already been unavailingly
offered to yours.  It is our custom to examine and test, closely and
exhaustively, new things that are offered.  But what would you?  We seek
the best for France."

"He isn’t flying his aëroplane himself, is he?  Or working his own
invention, whatever it may be?"

"But no, Madame!  One of our* Officiers-Aviateurs* is acting as pilot, a
skilled mechanic of our Service occupies the observer’s place.  Despite
the Entente Cordiale—the happy relations prevailing between my country
and England—it would hardly be _convenable_ or discreet to permit even
an Englishman"—the tone of graceful, subtle irony cannot be conveyed by
pen or type—"_even_ an Englishman to fly over Paris, or any other
fortified city of France.  But see!  In the sky to the north-east—above
that silvery puff of vapour—arrives now the _avion_ built and christened
by your countryman."

Margot asked, narrowing her beautiful eyes as she searched out the
darkish speck upon the hot blue background:

"The plane, you mean.  What does he call it?"

Raymond answered without removing his eyes from his binoculars:

"Madame, he calls it ’The Bird of War.’"

The tuff-tuff of a motor-cycle sounded faintly in the distance, as the
resonant vibrating noise of the aëroplane came more triumphantly out of
the hot blue sky.  Save for a scintillating white reflection to the
north that might have been the crystal dome of the great big Palm House
in the Jardin d’Acclimatation, and that unavoidable, useful ugliness,
the gilded lantern of the Tour Eiffel, thrusting up into the middle
distance over the delicately-rounded masses of new foliage upon the
right-hand looking east, the glory and shame and magnificence and
squalor of the Queen City of Cities might have lain a hundred leagues
away, so ringed-in by delicate austere brown of serried tree-trunks,
rising above rich clumps of blossoming lilac, syringa, yellow azalea,
and pink, mauve, and snowy rhododendron, was the spacious green arena
wherein Franky and Margot were destined to play their part.

Now, followed by the wide-winged shadow that the sun of high noon threw
almost directly beneath her, darkening drifting cloud, and open city
spaces, passing over breasting tree-tops and wide stretches of municipal
greensward, the Bird of War drew nearer and more near....  And glancing
up as the portentous flying shadow suddenly blotted out the sunlight,
Franky realised that the two-seater monoplane was hovering, and buzzing
as she hovered, like a Brobdingnagian combination of kite-hawk,
dragon-fly, and bumblebee.

He pulled out a pair of vest-pocket field-glasses and scanned her as she
hung there, gleaming in the sunlight, at a height of perhaps five
hundred feet above the white cloths on the grass.  He could make out the
Union Jack on her underwings, the huge black raking capitals of her name
BIRD OF WAR painted on the side of the tapering canvas-covered fuselage,
the diamond-shaped tail swaying between the pendant flaps of the huge
triangular elevators, clearly as though these features had been filmed
upon the screen. In a curious misty circle, spinning under the fuselage,
he suspected lay the secret of her kite-like poise and hover, and behind
his immaculate waistcoat he was sensible of a thrill.

If the English inventor had not solved the baffling Problem of
Stability, he had come uncommonly near it, by the Great Brass Hat!  And
the dud-heads at Whitehall had shown the door to him and his invention.
"Good Christmas!—how like ’em!" reflected Franky, lowering the glasses
to chuckle, and looking round for Margot.

There she was, some twenty yards distant, planted right in the middle of
the avenue, lost to the wide in rapt contemplation of the hovering

"Kitts!" he called, but she did not hear, or disdained to pay attention.
He tried to call again, but his mouth dried up and his feet seemed
rooted to the ground.  For, swinging round the turf-banked corner of the
avenue at its junction with another, charging at a terrific pace down
upon the little brilliant creature, came a whity-brown figure on a
motorcycle, the frantic honking of its horn and the racket of its
engine’s open throttle mingling deafeningly with the tractor’s roar.

                              *CHAPTER VI*


The frantic honking of the pneumatic horn was lost in the crashing
collision of earth and metal.  Franky, pallid and damp with
apprehension, reassured himself by a rapid glance that Margot was safe
and sound.  The aëroplane had ceased buzzing and hovering, headed
southwards, and floated on, trailing her shadow, leaving the traces of
her passage in a smear of brown earth indicating a vicious slash made by
the right-side foot-rest of a motor-cycle in the greensward, conserved
and sacred to the French Republic—the upset machine to which the
foot-rest appertained, and an angry young man in dusty overalls, sitting
in the middle of the raked-up avenue.

"You’ve had a spill! ..." Franky heard himself saying.

"Yes....  I have had a spill—thanks to that young lady!"

The dusty young man’s tone was frankly savage; he regarded the brilliant
little figure in the distance with a scowl of resentment as he gathered
himself up from the gravel, and dabbed at a jagged, oozing cut on his
prominent chin with a handkerchief of Isabella hue.  "The brake-handle
did that," he curtly explained, more for his own benefit than apologetic
Franky’s.  But he looked full in the flushed and dewy countenance of
Margot’s lord as he added:

"If I’d killed her, a French jury would have found that she deserved
it!—running like a corncrake across the avenue when I was scorching up
at top speed! ..."

"I know," Franky stammered.  "I—I see how it all happened.  You had to
steer slap into the bank—to save my—my wife’s life.  How can I
apologise? ... You see, she was crazy about the aëroplane....  She’d
been warned to keep well out of the way—you know what women are! ..."

"Oh, as to that! ..."  The dusty young man, moving with a perceptible
limp, went to the prone motor-cycle, stood it up on its bent stand with
one twist of his big-boned wrist, and began to examine into its
injuries.  "Not much wrong," he said to himself, and straightened his
back, and in the act of throwing a leg over the saddle, felt Franky’s
restraining grip upon his arm.

"You don’t go until my wife has thanked you!"  Franky’s upper-lip was
Rhadamanthine.  "Margot!" he called, in a tone of authority such as he
had never previously heard from his own mouth; "Come here at once,
please!  I want to speak to you!"

The fluttering little figure waved a hand to him.  The gay little voice
called back:

"Yes....  Oh!—but look at them! ... Can they be going?  Why, I believe
they are! ..."

The canvas strips had been rolled up by a mechanician of the Service
Aëronautique, and stowed away behind the big grey telegraph-car, in the
recesses of which the telescopic steel mast and aërials of the wireless
had been snugly tucked away.  The mechanics in _képis_ and overalls had
stowed themselves away inside the _camion_; the wireless operator, a
képi having replaced his headband, was acting as chauffeur. And,
occupying the front seat beside a junior officer, who piloted a second,
smaller car, Raymond, _Capitaine-Commandant pilot_ of the —th escadrille
of France’s Service Aëronautique gave the signal for departure with an
upward wave of his hand.  Then, with some sharp, staccato trills of a
whistle and the double honk of a pneumatic horn, the car of the
commandant turned and sped down the avenue, followed by the
tractor-waggon; and both were lost to view.

"But—they’re gone! ... And—and the aëroplane...." Margot gasped out the
words in amazed discomfiture, sending her eyes after a dwindling shape
beating down the sky to the southward, and straining her ears to catch
the last of the tractor’s whirring song.

"Nearly at Issy, I should calculate—travelling at eighty miles an hour.
Impossible now to catch up with her in time to see her do the last
stunt.  Can choose my own pace for going, anyhow," said the
motor-cyclist ruefully.  "Nothing left to do but take the Bird over and
fly her back to the Drancy hangar."

He tried to laugh, but his wrung face gave the lie to the plucky
pretence of indifference.  He went on, still doggedly mopping away at
his bleeding chin:

"I was lucky in getting a hearing on this side of the Channel.  The
bigwigs at Whitehall simply referred me to the Superintendent of the
Royal Aircraft Factory at Frayborough, and as I’d tried him twice
already, I knew what _he’d_ got to say.  The Commander of the Central
School of Military Aviation was a brick—I’ll say that for him.  He sent
a French flying officer to look me up at Hendon, who got me in touch
with the Inventions Bureau of their _Service Aëronautique_....  Well!
the big test’s over by this time.  I shall know my fate in a week or
two—or possibly in a year?"

"Oh!  You don’t mean——"

The horrified cry broke from Margot.  Franky yelled:

"By the Great Brass Hat! ... You’re the inventor! The whole thing was
your show!"

"Yes, I’m the inventor," the tanned young man in the dusty overalls
answered rather contemptuously: "What did you take me for? ... A French
medical student having a joy-ride, or a _commis voyageur_?"

"Can’t say.  Never thought! ... Fact is—my wife had frightened me
horribly.  When your machine bore down on her—posted right in the middle
of the gravel—I was scared stiff—give you my honour!—you might have sunk
a brace of Dreadnoughts in the palms of my hands!"

Franky made this absurd statement with so sincere an air, and clinched
it so effectually by displaying a lovely silk-cambric handkerchief in a
state of soppy limpness, that the abrased inventor nearly laughed.

But his thick, silvery, fair eyebrows settled into a straight line
across his tanned forehead.  He said with a directness that seemed to
belong to his lean, keen, hatchet-faced type:

"Once more, I am glad that no harm has happened to the lady.  The delay
caused by the—mishap can hardly have prejudiced my success.  For all I
know, the test of my hoverer may have favourably impressed the judges.
If it has done otherwise I have no right to blame man, dog, or devil,
for a failure that may be my own."

He lifted his goggled cap to Margot with a good air, pulled it down, and
was in the act of lowering the visor, when Margot’s voice arrested the
big-boned hand.  That voice Franky knew could be wonderfully coaxing.
It pleaded now, soft as the sigh of a Mediterranean breeze:

"Whether the test is successful or isn’t, will you promise that we shall
hear from you? ..."

"Good egg!" joined in Franky.  "Do let us know! ... We’re stopping at
the Spitz, Place Vendôme."  He warmed and grew expansive in the light of
Margot’s smile of approval.  "Drop in on us there," he urged, "as soon
as you’ve found out.  Come and dine with us in any case.... No!—we’re
engaged to-night, but come and lunch at two sharp to-morrow, and tell us
all about your hoverer over a bottle of Bubbly.  Suite 10, Second Floor.
Name of Norwater.  Stick this away to remind you," he ended, tendering
his card.

"You’re awfully good.  But at the same time I hardly——"

The voice broke off.  A glance at the proffered pasteboard had dyed the
inventor flaming scarlet from the collar of his dusty gabardine to the
edges of his goggled cap.  He dropped the card quietly upon the gravel,
and said, looking Franky straight between the eyes:

"Even if I were able to accept I’d have to decline your invitation.  My
name’s Sherbrand—I’m your Uncle Alan’s son."  He settled himself in the
saddle and finished before he pulled up the starting-lever.
"Understand—I’d no idea who you were until I saw the name on your card.
It has been a queer encounter—I can’t say a pleasant one.  Let me end it
by saying ’Good-day!’ ..."

Franky’s new-found cousin touched the goggled cap and pulled up the
starting-lever.  With the customary bang and snort, the motor-bicycle
leaped away.  Margot had uttered a little gasp at the moment of
revelation.  Now she turned great eyes of dismay on Franky, and withdrew
them quickly. For Franky’s eyes had become circular and poppy, his mouth
tried to shape itself into a whistle, but his expression was merely
vacuous.  He continued to explode with "Great Snipe!" at intervals, as
he and Margot made their way back to more populous avenues, chartered a
fortuitously passing taxi, and were driven back via the Porte Dauphine
to Spitz’s gorgeous caravanserai in the Place Vendôme, when Margot
vanished into her own bower, sending her French maid to intimate to
Milord that Miladi would take tea alone in that apartment, and did not
intend to dine.

Thus Franky, relieved from duty, presently found himself, in company
with a cigar, strolling bachelor-fashion through the streets of Paris.
No very clear recollection stayed with him of how he spent the
afternoon.  At one time he found himself with his features glued against
the plate-glass window of a celebrated establishment dedicated to the
culture and restoration of feminine beauty, contemplating divers gilt
wigs on stands—porcelain pots of marvellous unguents, warranted to
eliminate wrinkles; sachets of mystic herbs to be immersed in baths;
creams guaranteed to impart to the most exhausted skin the velvety
freshness of infancy.

Later he strayed into a sunny, green-turfed public garden, full of white
statues, sparkling fountains, and municipal seats whereon Burgundian,
Dalmatian, and Alsatian wet-nurses dandled or rocked or nourished their
infant charges, and bonnes or governesses presided over the gambols of
older babies, who played with belled Pierrots, or toy automobiles, or
inflated balls of gorgeous hues.

There is nothing profoundly moving in the sight of a stout, beribboned
wet-nurse suckling her employer’s infant.  But into the company of these
important hirelings came quite unconsciously a young working-woman in a
shabby brown merino skirt and a blouse of white Swiss.  Her shining
black hair was uncovered to the sunshine.  On one arm she carried a
bouncing baby, on the other a basket containing cabbages and onions, and
a flask of cheap red wine, which receptacle its owner, having taken the
other end of the seat Franky occupied, set down between herself and the
young man.  She was a healthy, plump young woman with too pronounced a
moustache for beauty.  But when, having methodically turned the baby
upside down to rearrange some detail of its scanty dress, she reversed
it and bared her breast to the eager mouth, a strange thrill went
through Franky.  A dimness came before his vision, and it was as though
those dimpled hands plucked at his heart.  He suffered a sudden
revulsion strange in a young man so modern, up-to-date, and beautifully
tailored.  He knew that he longed for a son most desperately.  And the
devil of it was—Margot did not.

                             *CHAPTER VII*

                           *THE CONSOLATRIX*

Thus, Franky got up and moved away, driven by the stinging cloud of
thoughts that pursued and battened on him, and presently found himself
following a stream of people up a flight of marble steps, and under an
imposing portico that ended in a turnstile and a National Collection of
Paintings and Sculptures.

Wandering through a maze of long skylighted galleries where the
master-works of Modern Art are conserved and cherished, he was to
encounter the thought that haunted him in a myriad of images, wrought by
the chisel, the brush, the burin, and the graving-tool in marble or
bronze, upon canvas or panel, in ivory, or silver, or enamel, or gold.

A sculptured Hagar mourning by the side of her dying Ishmael caught his
eye as he entered the first gallery. Farther on, Eve after the Fall
lifted the infant Cain to receive the kiss of Adam, homing to his shack
of green branches at the end of the labouring day.  And a shag-thighed,
curly-horned Pan romped with a litter of sturdy bear-cubs, and
medallions and panels of childhood were everywhere.

It was the same in the galleries devoted to painting.  A Breton
christening-party, depicted with the roughness that hides consummate
mastery of technique, trudged along a snowy coast-road towards a little
chapel near the seashore. The young mother in her winged starched cap
and bodice of black velvet, yet pale from the ordeal of anguish, walked
between her smiling gossips, carrying her new-born infant,
chrysalis-like in its linen swaddlings, to be made into a good Christian
by M. le Curé.  And seated on a broken throne of red granite beneath the
towering propylæum of a ruined Egyptian temple, whose colonnades of
lotus columns, and walls painted with processions of hierophants
offering incense to bird or beast-headed deities, and bewigged dancers
and musicians ministering to the pleasures of long-eyed kings, receded
down long perspectives into distance, a Woman, young and slender and
draped in a long blue cloak over a white robe, gazed downwards at a
naked Child sleeping upon her knees.  And about the downy temples of the
Child shone a slender ring of mystic brightness, and another, more
faint, haloed the chastely beautiful head of the Mother bending above.

Another canvas, austere and gorgeous, with the marvellous blues and
emeralds and rich deep crimsons of old Byzantine ornament in relief
against a background of dull tawny gold, showed the same maternal
figure, far older and in darker draperies, seated upon a chair of
wrought ivory upon a daïs, looking outward and upward with deep eyes of
unfathomable tenderness and sorrow, and pale hands lifted in
supplication to that Heaven whither Her Son ascended after His Victory
over Death.  Across the knees of the Consolatrix Afflictorum a mourning
mother lay prone and tearless.  And at the feet of the Virgin,
outstretched amidst the scattered petals of some fallen roses, you saw
the nude, beautiful body of a male child of some three years old.

But little of the inner meaning of Bouguereau’s great picture filtered
through Franky’s honest brown eyes to the mind that lay somewhere behind
them.  But he realised that for the grieving woman who had borne a son
and lost him there was no more joy in the world.

The Child of that Woman upon whose knees she leaned her breaking heart
had lived to attain to the perfect ripeness of glorious Manhood.  But
then....  Franky followed the lines of the dark, downward-drifting veil
up to the rapt Mother-face with the sorrowful, close-folded mouth and
the deep, fathomless eyes, and remembered what had happened to Her Son.

"Beg pardon!" he found himself muttering between his teeth.  His hand
went up, and he had bared his sleek brown head before he knew.  This
wasn’t a Roman Catholic Church, anyway ... there was no obligation even
to appear respectful; France had long ago kicked over the traces of
Religion—all French people were Freethinkers in these days.  Telling
himself this, Franky did not replace the shiny topper.  One rapid glance
to right and left had shown him that the gallery was nearly empty; the
few visitors it contained were too far distant to have observed the
action.  Except, possibly, one person, a lean, short, elderly man in
shabby black, who stood some paces behind, a little to the left of
Franky, holding a shovel-brimmed round-crowned beaver with both hands
against his sunken chest as he gazed with bright, absorbed eyes at the
wonderful rapt face of the Consoler; his lips moving rapidly as he
whispered to himself, not breaking off or twitching a muscle because
Franky had glanced round:

Franky glanced round again, and this time encountered the oddly young
eyes of his neighbour, looking from a brown, deeply wrinkled visage
framed in thickly growing, straight black hair, heavily streaked with

"Monsieur is a lover of Art?"

Undoubtedly a Frenchman, he addressed Franky in cultured English, with a
tone and manner excellently graced. The vivid clearness of his
amber-coloured eyes, set in the now smiling mask of walnut-brown
wrinkles, was attractive. And Franky answered, unconsciously warming to
the look and smile:

"Must say I hardly know.  Things that clever, intellectual people go
into raptures over, bore me simply stiff.  Other things—things they howl
down—go straight to the spot, you see.  And all I can say when I’m
hauled over the coals for liking rubbish is, that the rubbish is good
enough for this child."

"I comprehend.  Monsieur has the courage of his convictions. It is a
quality rare in these days.  And—this painting particularly appeals to
Monsieur?  May one be pardoned for asking why?"

The voice was suave, but it somehow compelled an answer. Franky, with an
indistinct remembrance of _viva voce_ examinations awakening in him,
cleared his throat and fell back a pace or two....  Well set up and
well-bred, well-groomed and well-dressed, his figure, beside that other
in the priestly soutane of rusty alpaca, short enough to reveal coarse
ribbed stockings of black yarn, and cracked prunella shoes with worn
steel buckles, made a contrast sufficiently quaint to provoke a stare of
curiosity, had any observer passed just then.  But standing together on
the beeswaxed floor at the upper end of the long, bright, skylighted
gallery, the Guardsman and his temporary acquaintance were as private as
it is possible to be in a public place.

Thus, at the cost of a heightened complexion and an occasional stammer,
Franky explained himself.  The painting appealed to him because it
recalled a Bible story—made familiar to Franky by reason of having
swotted it at School for Sunday Ques. with other fellows of the Fifth in
Greyshott’s time.  Also, on the wind-up Sunday of his, Franky’s, Last
Term, having passed for the Army with the dev—hem!—of a lot of trouble—a
beastly epidemic of diphtheria and scarlet fever having broken out among
the children of the Windsor poor, the Head had preached from the text in
Big Chapel.  And the text went something like this:

"_A Voice in Rama was heard, of lamentation and mourning: Rachel
bewailing her children: and would not be comforted because they are

The haggard, beautiful, tearless Rachel of the picture hadn’t bucked at
the disfigurement and the pain and the danger of child-bearing.  She had
welcomed them for the sake of the kid....  It was a thundering pity he
hadn’t lived—in Franky’s opinion; "woman jolly well deserved to have
been let keep that clinking fine boy to rear."

"I comprehend."  The clear eyes flashed into Franky’s, the withered
brown mask was alight with sympathetic intelligence.  "To Monsieur, an
English officer and a member of the Protestant Church of England, that
woman who leans her bursting heart upon the knees of the Mother of
Consolation is Rachel."  He quoted:

"’_Vox in Rama audita est, ploratus el ululatus: Rachel plorans filios
suos: et noluit consolari, quia non sunt._’"

"That’s it!" Franky nodded, admitting candidly: "Though I always was a
duffer at Latin, and we weren’t taught at School to pronounce it—quite
in that way."

Said the clear-eyed old man, whose dark wrinkled throat displayed no
edge of linen above the plain circular collar of the soutane, only a
significant border of purple from which two widish lappets of the same
colour depended beneath the peaked and mobile chin, and who might have
been a prelate of sorts, had it not been understood of simple Franky
that the State had abolished the Catholic religion and banished all
priests, monks, and nuns from France.

"The Italianate Latin puzzles you....  It is—slightly different to the
Latin they taught you at Eton?  _Hein_? When I lived in England—not so
long ago—I counted several brave Eton fellows among my acquaintances.
And their mental attitude with regard to the language of Virgil, Horace,
and Tacitus was precisely that of Monsieur."

He chuckled, and his oddly young eyes twinkled quite gaily as he pulled
out a battered little silver snuff-box and helped himself, wrinkling his
thin hooked nose with evident enjoyment.  As he dusted the pungent brown
grains from his lappets with a coarse blue-checked cotton handkerchief,
an amethyst ring on the wrinkled hand flashed pink and violet in the

"To Monsieur who is doubtless familiar with the Scriptures in Tyndall’s
translation, I might suggest that the Latin of the Ancient Romans should
be pronounced in the Roman style!  But Monsieur will pardon this tone of
the pedagogue. I will not ’bore you stiff’ with a classical
disquisition. Permit me to thank you for your amiable compliance with
the request of an old man, and to wish you good-day."

He combined apology, farewell, and dismissal in a courtly little bow,
and as though undoubting that the other would pass on, plunged again
into the picture.  But Franky lingered to say, awkwardly:

"Perhaps ... If you don’t mind...."

"_Hein_? ..."

The keen eyes reverted to his embarrassed face instantly.

"What if I do not mind? ... There is something you desire to ask me?"

"Well, yes!" Franky admitted.  "Don’t quite pipe why, but I rather
cotton to hearing your version....  Of the meaning of that picture, you
know! ..."

"Yes—yes!  I understand! ..."  The vivid eyes flashed piercingly into
Franky’s, and leaped back to the great glorious canvas within the
stately frame.  "To you who were once a boy at Eton that woman who has
no more tears to shed is Rachel of Rama....  To me, once Seminarist of
the Institut Catholique, as to others of my holy faith and sacred
calling—she is France—our beloved France, who leans upon the knees and
against the bosom of the Catholic Church in her bereavement—mourning
with anguish unutterable her children who are dead....  Dead to Faith,
dead to the Spiritual Life—members separated from the Body of Christ by
their own choice as by the act of Government.  Lost!—unless the ray of
Divine Grace find and touch them in their self-made darkness, and they
repent, and turn themselves to Christ again!"

Franky said, with wholly lovable banality:

"Rather sweepin’, but natural conclusion, from a religious point o’
view.  Still, when a whole nation gets up like one man and bally well
chucks a Religion, there must be something jolly off-colour and
thundering rotten about that Religion, don’t you know?"

"A whole nation!"

The bright eyes held Franky’s sternly.  He lifted his right arm, and the
withered hand still shut upon the battered snuff-box shot up two fingers
in vigorous protest.  "Pardon, Monsieur—you are very seriously mistaken.
France was never more Catholic at heart than now.  How strange!—when but
twenty-one miles of salt water divide Calais from Dover—when the Entente
Cordiale has established between your country and mine nominally close
and intimate relations; that so complete an ignorance as to the French
Nation, its Government, its mode of thought, its moral, religious, and
social conditions, should be found prevailing in Great Britain to-day!"

"My dear sir, you’re off the bull—completely off!" protested
Franky—Franky whose second sister was married to a Frenchman, Franky who
knew Paris as well as the inside of his week-end suit-case, by Jove!

A deprecating shrug and a supple outstretched hand cut short the

"Pardon, Monsieur l’Anglais—I know what you would say to me!  There is
much force in the argument....  It is _très sensée_—and there is truth
in it, and yet it is false—to be guilty of a paradox.  The aristocracy
of Great Britain, like her plutocracy, set high value upon much that
comes from France.  British gold is poured into my country in return for
the newest and most fanciful modes in costume, millinery, and jewellery.
And not only do your beautiful women adorn themselves with the
inventions of our bold and original genius for ornament, but for your
_menus_, your pleasures, the novels and plays that paint in intoxicating
colours the joys of unchaste love and illicit passion, for the sensuous
poetry that is garlanded with the flame-hued flowers of Evil, you are
ready to praise and pay us lavishly, as though no nobler growth than
this rank luxuriance sprang from the intellectual soil of France.  Our
vices—alas!—with the appalling diseases that spring from them, and the
combinations of drugs that alleviate these—all find with you a ready
market.  And you attend our race-meetings at Longchamps and Auteuil,
where English jockeys ride French and Irish horses—and you believe,
you!—that you know the social life of France.  No!—but you are
ignorant—profoundly ignorant!  May GOD be thanked that you misjudge us
thus cruelly.  For if my country were no better than Great Britain and
other foreign nations believe her to be, it were time indeed for a rain
of fire from Heaven!"

Hardly raising his voice above a clear whisper, the emotion and
vehemence with which he spoke, and the swift and fiery gesticulations
with which he illustrated utterance, made the sweat start out in beads
upon his wrinkled forehead and cheeks.  He wiped these off with the blue
checked handkerchief, saying:

"Pardon!  I grow warm when I speak of these things. I recognise that if
in the judgment of other nations France is a courtesan drunk with
lechery, or at the best _un esprit follet_, she has brought this
judgment upon herself.  Flippancy, the desire to _faire de l’esprit_
under any circumstances—the bold and brilliant gaiety that is her
exclusive and most beautiful characteristic—these have caused her to be
misunderstood.  But whatever else she be, she is not Pagan nor Agnostic.
To believe that is to wrong her cruelly, Monsieur!"

Franky, by now hopelessly at sea, endured the hailstorm of swift,
vehement sentences with an expression of amiable vacuity, his stiffly
pendent hands plainly yearning for the refuge of his trousers pockets,
his mind rocking on the waves of the stranger’s passionate eloquence
like a toy yacht adrift on the bosom of the Atlantic.  And the resonant
Gallic voice went on:

                             *CHAPTER VIII*


"The masters of France to-day are hostile to Christianity. They are
Freemasons (Freemasonry in England is not Freemasonry as it is
understood here); they are Freethinkers, Socialists, Internationalists,
and Hedonists, the avowed enemies of the Catholic Faith.  Hence,
churches, seminaries, and schools have been closed by Government,
communities of religious men and women have been uprooted and exiled.
Priests have been banished, ecclesiastical and private property has been
appropriated and confiscated, churches have been desecrated, the symbols
of Christianity and religion everywhere torn down.  In France upon Good
Friday the standard of the Republic waves proudly, while the flag of
every other Christian nation hangs at half-mast high.  And yet—the great
mass of the French people are—Catholic and nothing but Catholic!  The
light may be hidden, but the fire of devotion still burns in millions of
faithful hearts gathered about the Church’s altars, beating beside the
hearths of innumerable homes in France.  Blood—torrents of blood—would
not quench that sacred fire.  When the Day of Expiation comes, as it
will come, most surely, the Catholicism of France will prove her
salvation yet!"

With the final sentence, the hand that had been lifted in gesture
dropped to the side of the speaker.  The flashing glance took in Franky
from the top of his sleek bewildered head to the tips of his beautiful
patent-leathers.  He said with a smile of irresistible amusement:

"Monsieur, I fear I have fatigued you.  Let me thank you for your
admirable patience.  _Au revoir_, or if you prefer it—_Adieu_!"

Another of the quick little bows, and he had covered himself and passed
on rapidly.  Franky reflected, staring after the short black figure in
the caped soutane with the worn purple sash and shabby beaver
shovel-hat, as it receded from his view.

"Fruity old wordster, ’pon my natural!  Toppin’ fine talker!  Wonder who
he is?  Head of a Public School, swottin’ an address for the beginning
of the Midsummer Half term—a Professor of Divinity gettin’ up a
lecture—the Archbishop of Paris rehearsin’ a sermon.  Whichever they
call him, why don’t he pitch his language at a man of his own size?"

And he went back to the Spitz through the boulevards that were surging
with the afternoon life of Paris, and heard from Pauline that Miladi had
retired to bed.  She had already dispatched a billet of excuses to Sir
Brayham, with whom Miladi and Milord were engaged to dine downstairs
that evening, explaining that a headache prevented her from accompanying
Milord.  He—Milord—must be sure to make no noise in changing for dinner,
as Miladi, after a crisis of the nerves of the most alarming, was now
sleeping like an angel, having taken a _potion calmante_ of
orange-flower syrup with water, not the veronal so heartily detested of

"Sleepin’ like an angel, is she? ... Good egg!—though I thought angels
never went to bed—flew about singing all the giddy time.  Righto,
though!  I won’t disturb her ladyship....  When she wakes, give her my

And Franky entered his dressing-room on cautious tiptoe, lighted a
cigarette, rang the bell for his valet, and began to reflect.

It was to have been a dinner of eight people—Brayham the host, with Lady
Wathe, skinny little vitriol-tongued woman!—a man unknown who was to
have sat next Margot; Commander Courtley—ripping good fellow old
Courtley! no better sailor walked the quarter-deck of a First-Class
Cruiser—damn shame those Admiralty bigwigs denied such a fellow
post-rank; and Lady Beauvayse, formerly Miss Sadie Sculpin of New
York—pretty American with pots of boodle, married to that ghastly little
bounder who’d stepped into the shoes a better man would be wearing if
his elder brother (handsome fellow who married an actress, Lessie
Lavigne of the Jollity—good old Jollity!) hadn’t got pipped in that
scrum with the Boers in 1900-1901.

Lessie, Lady Beauvayse, the widder called herself on the posters and
programmes.  Come down to second-rate parts in Music Hall Revue—gettin’
elderly and stout.  Must see red when she happened to spy the present
Lord Beauvayse’s pretty peeress in the stalls or boxes....  Wonder why
the P.P. made such a pal of Patrine Saxham?  Niece of Saxham of Harley
Street—handsome as paint, proud as the devil, and an Advanced
Thinker—according to Margot. Remembering the gift of the jade tree-frog,
Franky involuntarily wrinkled his nose.

With Lady Beau and the Saxham girl, there would be a party of seven,
counting the man unknown....  Might go on afterwards to the Folies
Bergère or the Théâtre Marigny—or perhaps the Jardin de Paris.  Why
hadn’t Jobling answered his master’s bell?  Why had he deputised a
waiter to enquire whether his lordship wished his valet?  Did he think
waiters were paid to do his, Jobling’s, work for him?  Or did he,
Jobling, suppose he was kept for show?

The strenuous stage-whisper in which Franky addressed the recalcitrant
Jobling penetrated the door-panels of the adjoining bower, as such
whispers usually do.  But Margot was really sleeping—the orange-flower
water had had a few drops of chloral mingled with it.  Milord had never
prohibited chloral, as Pauline had pointed out.  But unsuspicious
Franky, unrigging (as he termed the process), while the tardy Jobling
prepared his master’s bath and laid out his master’s "glad rags," plumed
himself upon having made a notable advance in the science of
wife-government.  Even the blameless potion of orange-flower testified
to his masculine strength of will.

                              *CHAPTER IX*

                        *SIR THOMAS ENTERTAINS*

You are invited to follow Franky, and sit with him at his friend Tom
Brayham’s circular board, decorated with great silver bowls of
marvellous Rayon d’Or roses, that seemed to exhale the harvested
sunshine of summer from their fiery golden hearts.

You remember the famous dining-room of the big Paris caravanserai, with
its archways supported by slender pillars of creamy pink Carrara marble,
wreathed with inlaid fillets of green malachite and lapis lazuli, and
its electric illuminants concealed behind an oxidised silver frieze.
And possibly you need no introduction to the deity—plain and
middle-aged—in whose honour Brayham—the Hon. Sir Thomas Brayham, an
ex-Justice of the King’s Bench Division—in the remote mid-Victorian era
a famous Q.C.—made oblation of luscious meats and special wines.  The
clever, sharp-tongued, penniless niece of a famous Minister for Foreign
Affairs, she had made a love-match at twenty with Lord Watho Wathe, a
handsome and equally impecunious subaltern in a famous Highland
regiment, who was killed upon Active Service twenty years later, while
travelling upon a special mission to the Front Headquarters during the
South African War of 1900.

Two years later his widow conferred her hand upon Mr. Reuben Munts, of
Kimberley and South Carfordshire, a diamond-mining magnate who had made
his colossal pile before the War.  She had never borne her second
husband’s name, and when he died, leaving her sole mistress of his
millions, Lady Wathe resumed her place in Society, thenceforwards to
sparkle as never before.

"The ’_Chronique Scandaleuse_’ in a diamond setting" some phrase-maker
clever as herself had aptly termed her. Without her riches, stripped of
her wonderful diamonds, Society might have found her to be merely a
little chattering woman, avid of the reputation of a humorist and
_raconteuse_, unflagging in her relish for stories, not seldom of the
broadest, related at her own expense or at the cost of other people, and
over-liberally garnished with nods and becks, darting glances, and
wreathed smiles.

Upon this night of the Grand Prix—won, you will remember, by Baron M. de
Rothschild’s "Sardanapole"—the little lady’s jests fizzled and
coruscated like Japanese fireworks. Her gibes buzzed and stung like
wasps about a lawn-set tea-table, when new-made jam and fragrant honey
tempt the yellow-and-black marauders to the board.  And yet from the
soup to the _entremets_, Franky listened in dour and smileless silence,
unable to conjure up a grin at the sharpest of the Goblin’s witticisms,
or swell the guffaw that invariably followed the naughtiest of her

"Off colour, what? ..." his crony Courtley queried in a sympathetic
undertone, catching a glimpse of Franky’s cheerless countenance behind
the bare, convulsed back and snowy heaving shoulders of Lady Beauvayse,
who occupied the intervening chair.

"Putridly off colour....  Walked in the Bois, and got a touch of the
sun, I fancy!" Franky whispered back too loudly, drawing upon himself
the Goblin’s _equivoque_:

"The sun or the daughter, did you say, Lord Norwater? Dear me!" the
Goblin shrilled; "you’re actually blushing! You’ve revived a long-lost
Early Victorian art."

"Was blushing really an art with the ladies of that dim and distant
era?" asked the friendly Brayham, not in the least comprehending
Franky’s discomfiture, yet desirous of diverting the Goblin’s glittering
scrutiny from her victim’s scarlet face.

"It was the art that concealed Heart—or assumed it!" Lady Wathe
retorted, with a peal of elfish laughter, turning her tight-skinned,
large-eyed, wide-mouthed ugliness upon the speaker, and nodding her
little round head until the huge and perfectly matched diamonds of the
triple-rayed tiara that crowned her scanty henna-dyed tresses flashed
blinding sparks of violet and red and emerald splendour in the
mellow-toned radiance of the electric lights.

The Goblin had meant nothing, Franky assured himself, as the angry blood
stopped humming in his ears, and his complexion regained its normal
shade.  The bad pun that had bowled him over had possibly been uttered
without malicious intent....  Yet Lady Wathe rented a gorgeous suite
upon the floor below the Norwater apartments, and one of her three
lady’s-maids might have been pumping Pauline....  What was she saying?
... Why was everybody cackling? ...

The Goblin was launched upon a characteristic story.  Its
_dénouement_—worked up with skill and related with point—evoked peal
upon peal of laughter from the guests at Brayham’s table, with the sole
exception of Franky, whom the anecdote found sulky and left glum.  He
said to himself that if Lady Beauvayse, _née_ Miss Sadie J. Sculpin of
New York, sole child and heiress of a Yankee who had made millions out
of Chewing Gum, chose to forget her position as the wife of a British
Peer, and mother of his children, by Jove! and scream at such nastiness,
it was her look-out.  If the big red-blond man who sat on Franky’s right
shook with amusement, as he recapitulated the chief points of the story
for the benefit of the girl who sat next him, it was his affair. But
that the Saxham, an unmarried girl, who oughtn’t to see the bearings of
such a tale, should openly revel in its saltness, made Franky feel
sick—on this particular night.

He realised that he detested the Saxham girl, one of Margot’s chosen
Club intimates, more fervently than even Tota Stannus or Joan Delabrand;
more thoroughly than Rhona Helvellyn; only little less heartily than he
hated Cynthia Charterhouse.  Big, bold, galumphing, provocative—in fact,
so much IT that you couldn’t overlook her—he found her more unpleasantly
attractive than usual, in a bodice that was no more than a fold of
shimmering orange stuff above the waist—tossing the _panache_ of ospreys
that startlingly crowned her, offering up her _persistant_ illusion
perfumes for the delectation of the appreciative male.

Only look at her, ready to climb into her neighbour’s pocket.  Leaning
her round white elbows on the guipure table-cloth, half-shutting those
long greeny-brown Egyptian eyes of her, wreathing her long thick white
neck to send a daring challenge into the face of the laughing man.  A
big man, bright red-haired, blue-eyed, and broad-chested, showing every
shining tooth in his handsome grinning head....

"She’s _screaming_, isn’t she, dear Lady Beau?"  Thus the Saxham to her
employer, friend, and ally, across the silver bowls of Rayon d’Or roses,
her naked shoulder brushing the coat-sleeve of her neighbour, the big
rufous man. And Lady Beau gushed back:

"In marvellous form to-night....  Don’t you think so, Count?  Do agree
with us!" and the big man agreed, with the accent of the German

"She is _kolossal_....  _Wunderlich_! ..."

"Who’s the German next me—big beggar Lady Beau and Miss Saxham are
gushing over?" Franky presently telegraphed to Courtley behind the
charming American’s accommodating back.  And Courtley signalled in

"Von Herrnung.  German Count of sorts—Engineer and Flieger officer.  Son
of an Imperial Councillor, and cousin to Princess Willy of Kiekower
Oestern—really rather an interestin’ beast in his way.  Made a one-stop
flight to Paris from Hanover in April, with an Albatros biplane.
Previously won an event in the Prinz Heinrich Circuit Competition."  He
added: "We can’t decently blink their progress in military aviation.
It’s one o’ them there fax which the brass-hats at the War Office
pretend to regard as all my eye.  Yet they know the Fatherland—or if
they don’t they oughter!  Good-lookin’ chap this. Not over thirty, I
should guess him.  Always dodging in and out of the German Embassy.  The
Goblin frightful nuts on him....  Goin’ to steer him through the next
London Season—suppose he’s lookin’ out for a moneyed wife!"

"Hope he gets her!" Franky mentally commented.  But he looked with new
interest at his big blond German neighbour, mentally calculating that
with all that bone, brawn, and muscle, von Herrnung couldn’t tip the
scale at less than sixteen stone.

Small-boned himself and of stature not above the medium, Franky
appreciated height and size in other men.  And von Herrnung was
undeniably a son of Anak.  The noiseless, demure waiters who paused
beside his chair to refill his glass or offer him dishes were dwarfed by
his seated presence to the proportions of little boys.

Once, when there was a momentary bustle at the principal entrance to the
now crowded restaurant, and a party of men, ceremoniously ushered by M.
Spitz in person, passed up the central gangway between the rows of
glittering tables, shielded by glass-panelled screens framed in oxidised
silver, and crowded now with gossiping, laughing, gobbling patrons—men
and women of varied nationalities, representing the elite of the
fashionable world, von Herrnung rose and remained imperturbably standing
at the salute, his eyes set and fixed, his head turned rigidly towards
the personage, semi-bald, stout, with a prominent under jaw and a hard
official stare rendered glassier by a frameless square monocle, and
showing beneath the open front of a loose military mantle a star upon
the left side of his evening dress-coat, and the glitter of an Order
suspended from a yellow riband about his thick bull-neck.

"The German Ambassador, Baron von Giesnau," Lady Wathe returned to a
question from Lady Beauvayse, as the portly official figure creaked by,
leaving a whiff of choice cigars and a taint of _parfum très
persistant_, lifting three fingers of a white-gloved hand in
acknowledgment of his countryman’s salute, and von Herrnung unstiffened
and dropped back into his chair.  "No! ... I’m not sure where the
Emperor is...."  She added, with one of her laughs and a shrug of her
thin vivacious shoulders: "Ask Count von Herrnung—he’s sure to know!"

"_Gnädige Gräfin_," von Herrnung returned when interrogated, "I am not
able to answer your question."  He shrugged his broad shoulders and
showed his white teeth. "_Unser Kaiser_ is—who shall say where?  At the
Hof ... possibly at Homburg....  Stop! ... Now I remember! _Seine
Majestät_ is at Kiel...."  He continued, arranging with a big white hand
displaying a preposterously long thumb-nail a corner of his glittering,
tightly rolled moustache: "At Kiel ... _ach_, yes! he has been there
since the 25th of June.  Entertaining the British and American
Ambassadors, visiting the Commander-in-Chief of your British Squadron,
superintending the armament of one of our own new
battle-cruisers,—seeing put into her those great big Krupp guns that are
to sink your super-Dreadnoughts by-and-by!"

The deliberately-uttered words of the last sentence dropped into a
little pool of chilly silence.  He had spoken with perfect gravity, and
the Englishmen who heard him stared before they grinned.  Then the women
shrieked in ecstasies of amusement—the Goblin’s laugh overtopping all.

"For he hates us! ... You can’t think how he hates us! ..." she crowed,
writhing her lean little throat, clasped by seven rows of shimmering
stones, wagging her Kobold’s head, crowned by its diadem of
multi-coloured fire.  "Tell us how you hate us, Tido! ... Do—pray do!"

"I hate you, _ach_ yes! ... All German officers are like
that—particularly the officers of our Field Flying Service," gravely
corroborated von Herrnung.  "We have many pleasant acquaintanceships
with men and women of British nationality, but your race—the Anglo-Saxon
branch of the great Teutonic oak-tree, it is natural that we should
hate! For that Germany must expand upon the west and north-west as well
as south and east, or suffocate, is certain.  She must wield the trident
of Sea Power; she must transform the map of Europe.  She must exploit
and disseminate German trade and German Kultur; therefore, as the
British, more than any other nation, stands in the way of German
development, we look forward to the Day when we shall exterminate you
and take our right position as masters of the world!"

The women screamed anew at this.  The men were now laughing in good
earnest.  Franky found it impossible to restrain the convulsions that
shook him in his chair. Purple-faced Brayham tried to speak, but broke
down wheezing and spluttering.  The Goblin shrilled:

"Tell them, Tido....  Please tell them! ... Do—ha! ha! tell them how
you’re spoiling for a scrimmage with us!  Show them your thumb-nail,
pray do!"

Thus adjured, the big German solemnly extended his left hand for general
inspection.  The pointed, carefully-manicured thumb-nail was at least
two inches long.  Its owner said with perfect gravity:

"This is the badge of a Society of England-haters, chiefly Prussian
military officers, young men of noble birth, bound by an oath of blood.
This mark we carry to distinguish us. It is a sign of our dedication, to
remind us of the purpose for which we are set apart."  He added: "Count
Zeppelin himself set the fashion of the uncut thumb-nail.  It will be
cut when the Day comes, and it has been dipped in blood!"

"In blood—how beastly!" said the Saxham girl, curling the corners of her
wide red mouth contemptuously.  "What a horrid crowd your noble young
Prussian officers must be! And when is the dipping to come off?"  Her
voice was deep and resonant as a masculine baritone, and of so carrying
a quality that Franky started as though the words had been spoken at his

"_Gnädige Fräulein_," von Herrnung answered, "I have already told you.
When the Day comes for which we are preparing.  When the great German
nation shall abandon Christianity—cast off the rusty fetters of Morality
and Virtue—call on the Ancient God of Battles—and beat out the iron
sceptre of World Power with sword-blows upon the anvil of War."

"When we’re all to be exterminated, he means!" Lady Wathe gasped behind
her filmy handkerchief.  "Tido, you’re too absolutely screaming!  Do say
why your noble young Prussians keep us waiting? ..."  And von Herrnung
answered composedly:

"Because we are not yet ready.  We shall not be perfectly ready before
the spring of 1916."

His hard, bright glance encountered Franky’s, and he lifted his full
glass of champagne and drank to him, smiling pleasantly.

Of course the German was rotting, reflected Franky.  If he wasn’t, the
combined insolence and brutality of such a menace, uttered at the table
of one of the Britons in whose gore von Herrnung and his comrades
yearned to dip their preposterous two-inch thumb-nails, took the bun, by
the Great Brass Hat!  He was perfectly cool, as his muscular white
hands—for the dinner had arrived at the dessert stage—manipulated the
silver knife that peeled a blood-red nectarine.  What a splendid ring, a
black-and-white pearl, large as a starling’s egg, and set in platinum,
the fellow sported on the little finger of that clawed left hand.  What
was he asking, in the suave voice with the guttural Teutonic accent?

"You were in the Bois, I believe, Lord Norwater, early in the midday.
Did you see any _avions_ of the _Service Aëronautique_?  Did the
invention they were testing come up to expectations? .... Did the
English aërial stabiliser answer well? ..."

Franky knew, as he encountered the compelling stare of the hard blue
eyes, that he objected to their owner.  He returned, in a tone more
huffy and less dignified than he would have liked it to be:

"Can’t say....  I was merely walking in the Bois with a lady.  Wasn’t on
the ground as—an investigator of the professional sort."

"_So!_"  Von Herrnung’s face was set in a smile of easy amiability.  The
shot might have missed the bull for anything that was betrayed there.
"And the name of the inventor?  It has escaped my memory.  Possibly you
could tell me, eh?"

"Certainly," said Franky, planting one with pleasure. "He happens to be
a cousin of mine.  Would you like me to write down his address?"

"_Gewiss_—thanks so very much.  But I will not trouble you!"

Nobody had heard the verbal encounter.  Lady Wathe was holding the table
with another anecdote punctuated with staccato peals of laughter,
tinkling like the brazen bells of a beaten tambourine.  Mademoiselle
Nou-Nou, a Paris celebrity, belonging to the most ancient if not the
most venerable of professions, had promenaded under the chestnuts at
Longchamps that morning, attired, as to the upper portion of her body,
in a sheath of spotted black gauze veiling, unlined—save with her own
charms.  And a witty Paris journalist had said that "the costume was
designed to represent Eve, not before nor after, but behind the fall";
and Paillette, who was there, working up her "Modes" letter for _Le
Style_, had answered——

Everybody at table was leaning forward and listening, as the Goblin
quoted the _riposte_ of Paillette.

Von Herrnung, showing his big white teeth in a smile, chose another
nectarine from the piled-up dish before him, seeming to admire the
contrast between his own muscular white fingers and the glowing fruit
they held.  But Franky saw that he was angry as he neatly peeled the
fruit, split the odorous yellow flesh, tore the stone out crimson and
dripping like a little human heart, and swallowed both halves of the
fruit in rapid succession, dabbing his mouth with the fine serviette
held up before him in both hands.  Then, with an air of arrogant
self-confidence peculiar to him, he said loudly, addressing the whole

"Madame Paillette certainly deserves the Croix d’Honneur for so
excellent a _bon-mot_.  As for Mademoiselle Nou-Nou, I do not myself
admire her, but my brother Ludwig, when he was alive, paid intermittent
tribute to her charms."  He added: "He was killed in the charge by a
fall with his horse in the Autumn Manoeuvres of last year, while the
Emperor was being entertained by command at a shooting-party upon a
forest property of my father’s that is about fifty kilometres from

                              *CHAPTER X*

                              *A SUPERMAN*

"Do tell what the Kaiser said when he heard of the accident!" came in
the voice of Lady Beauvayse, pitched now in a high, nasal tone that was
a danger-signal to those who knew her, like the mischievous twinkle in
her beautiful eyes. "I guess he must have been real upset!"

"_Ja, ja, gewiss_," returned von Herrnung, slightly shrugging his broad,
square shoulders.  "Of course the Emperor was greatly grieved for my
father’s loss.  But naturally the programme had to be carried out.
There is another day’s Imperial shooting; the business is concluded—very
satisfactorily—and _Seine Majestät_ takes leave.....  But of course he
sent to my mother a sympathetic message, which greatly consoled her.
And his Chief Equerry, Baron von Wildenberg, represented him at my
brother’s funeral.  And shortly afterwards he graciously conferred upon
my father the Second Class of the Order _Pour le Mérite_."

"How nice!  But what for?" demanded the downright American, with
astonishment so genuine that Brayham strangled with suppressed chuckles,
and the bearded mouth of Commander Courtley assumed the curve of a sly

"What for?" exclaimed von Herrnung.  He stiffened his big body
arrogantly, reddening with evident annoyance, and thickly through his
carefully-accentuated English the Teutonic consonants and gutturals
began to crop.  "_Gnädige Gräfin_, because that so coveted decoration is
the reward of special service rendered to the Emperor.  And my father in
his-personal-sorrow-conquering that it upon the amusements of Imperial
Majesty-might-not-intrude—had the noblest devotion and courage
exhibited—in the opinion of the All-Highest."

"My land!" exclaimed Lady Beauvayse, stimulated by the undisguised
enjoyment of Brayham, Courtley, and Franky, "if that don’t take the team
and waggon, with the yella dog underneath it, an’ the hoss-fly sittin’
on the near-wheel mule’s left ear!"  She added: "No wonder your Kaiser
thinks himself the hub of this little old universe—being nourished from
infancy on flapdoodle of that kind."  She added, dropping the saw-edged
artificial accent, and reverting to the agreeable, drawling tones
familiar to her friends: "But, last fall, when King George and Queen
Mary were allowing to spend the day with us at Foltlebarre Abbey, and
see the Gobelins tapestries after Teniers that were restored by our
great American dye-specialist, Charlotte B. Pendrill of New York—and I
had a dud head with neuralgitis, and couldn’t have bobbed a curtsey
without screaming like peacocks before a wet spell—Lord Beauvayse just
sent a respectful note of excuse over by fast car to the place in our
county where their Majesties were spending a week-end, and got a kind,
cosy little line by return, making an appointment for a more convenient

"_Es mag wohl sein_," said von Herrnung stiffly, repeating an apparently
favourite phrase.  "It may be so—in Great Britain.  But in Germany the
trivial happenings of ordinary existence are not permitted to interfere
with the Imperial plans."

"Mustn’t spoil Great Cæsar’s shoot by letting a natural sorrow dim your
eye, in case you’re unexpectedly informed of a family bereavement," said
Brayham to Lady Beauvayse.  "So now you know what to expect in case the
Kaiser should take it into his head to pop in on you at Foltlebarre
somewhere about July."

"I surmise I’d expect a visitor of mine, whether he’s the Kaiser, the
King, or the President," retorted Lady Beauvayse, "to be a gentleman!"
Her beautiful eyes blazed with genuine ire as she gave back von
Herrnung’s dominating stare.  She continued, reverting more purposefully
than ever to the exaggerated New York accent, mingling cutting Yankee
humour with bitter irony in the sentences that twanged, one after
another, off her sharp American tongue: "And I guess, Count von
Herrnung—though between your father and Amos J. Sculpin of Madison
Avenue, New York, and Sculpin Towers, Schenectady, there’s considerable
of a social gulf—if your Emperor had been a house-guest of my parpa’s,
and my elder brother"—she lifted an exquisite shoulder significantly
ceilingwards—"had happened to get the hoist—parpa’d just have said:
’Your Imperial Majesty, I am unexpectedly one boy short, and far from
feeling hunkey.  My cars are waiting at my door to convey you right-away
to your hotel.  Look in on us after the interment, when Mrs. Sculpin has
had time to get accustomed to her mourning. And as my _chef_ had orders
to serve a special dinner in honour of your Majesty, I shall be
gratified by your taking the hull menoo along—outside instead of in!’"

The Goblin cackled.  Ecstatic Brayham shrieked:

"Magnificent, by Gad!  He ought to know your father!"  Franky and
Courtley yielded unrestrainedly to mirth, as did the Saxham girl.  While
her teeth, dazzling as those of a Newfoundland pup, gleamed in her wide
red mouth, and her long eyes glittered between their narrowed eyelids,
von Herrnung gave her a quick sidelong glance of anger.  She caught the
look, and suddenly ceased to laugh, as the young Newfoundland might have
stopped barking.  She said below her breath:

"Vexed? ... Why, you’re really! ... And Lady Beau wasn’t joking about
your brother....  She wouldn’t dream of such a thing! .... She’s
tremendously kind and sympathetic.  Was he—your brother—nice? ..."

"Most women thought so."

"Would I have thought so?  What was he like?" the girl persisted.

Von Herrnung turned in his chair so as to face her, answering:

"You see him now, with one difference.  He was as black as I am red."

The blue eyes of the man and the long agate-coloured eyes of the young
woman encountered.  She said slowly in her warm, deep voice, less like a
feminine contralto than the masculine baritone:

"I like—red men—best!"

"So!  Then it was lucky that, instead of me, my brother Ludwig died!"
said von Herrnung, so loudly that Lady Wathe’s quick ear caught the
final words.  She shrilled out her laugh:

"But you’re a wretch, Tido!"  She shrugged her thin vivacious shoulders
under their glittering burden.  "A heartless wretch!"

"Of course I was regretting my brother, yes!" said von Herrnung.  "But I
do not pretend that his death did not improve what you English would
call my worldly prospects. That is the cant of Christianity—particularly
the sentimental Christianity of England.  One world is not enough for
your greed of possession.  You must eat your cake here and hereafter.
But for the robust super-humanity of Germany, this world is both Hell
and Heaven.  It is Hell for the man who is stupid, weakly, poor, and
conscience-ridden.  It is Heaven for the man who has knowledge, power,
health, wealth, the craft to keep his riches, and the capacity to enjoy
to the fullest the pleasures they can procure him, with the courage to
free himself from the bonds of what Christians and Agnostics term
Morality, and live precisely as Nature prompts.  So when my brother fell
in the charge," continued von Herrnung, with perfect seriousness, "he
opened for me the gates of Heaven.  Since then I am a god!"

"A mortal god," called out the chuckling Brayham; "for you’ve got to
die, you know, when your number’s up."

"When the time comes, of course I shall die," acquiesced von Herrnung,
"in the vulgar sense of the word.  But not so those who come after.  Our
bacteriologists will have discovered the microbe of old age and its
antitoxin, and then we shall die no more."

"Dashed if I know the difference between the vulgar way of dying and the
other style!" Brayham snorted apoplectically, feeling in his
waistcoat-pocket for the box of digestive tabloids that showed in a
bulge.  "Dashed unpleasant certainty—however you look at it!  And a man
who weighs eighteen stone at fifty has _got_ to look at it, every time
his tailor lets out his waistcoats, and his valet asks him to order more
collars because the last lot have shrunk in the wash."

"Ah, yes, to die is a hellish bore!" agreed von Herrnung, contemplating
his obese and purple host with a cruel smile. "But I and my friends have
no Hell, and we have done away with the myth of Heaven.  To dissolve and
be reabsorbed into the elements—that is the only after-life that is
possible for a Superman."

"You’d hardly call it Life, would you?" came unwillingly from Franky.
For von Herrnung’s eyes seemed to challenge his own.

"’_Imperial Cæsar, dead and turned to clay_,’ what?" quoted Courtley, to
whom von Herrnung transferred his smiling regard.

"I venture to hope that my clay may serve a more patriotic purpose than
stopping a draught-hole," said the German, carefully fingering the tight
roll of glittering red hair upon his upper-lip.  "It may be baked into a
sparking-plug for the aëro-motor of one of our Zeppelin dirigibles—the
mysterious Z. X., for instance, in whose trial trip from Stettin across
the Baltic to Upsala in Sweden you were so keenly interested some months
ago.  Or some of my body’s chemical constituents may pass into the young
tree beneath which my ashes will be deposited.  If beech or spruce, then
I may furnish ribs or struts for an Aviatik or a Taube.  But the best
way of continuing to exist after one is dead is to leave plenty of
vigorous sons behind one.  To perpetuate the race"—he continued speaking
to Lord Norwater, who had flushed and moved restlessly—"that is the high
and noble obligation Duty imposes upon the German Superman."

"You’ll have to hurry up your matrimonial arrangements, Tido,"
interposed the Goblin, with her cackle, "if your family is to tot up to
a respectable number before the year 1916."

"You mean that I may get killed in our great War of Extermination?  That
is possible," agreed von Herrnung. "Our Flying Service is not a
profession conducive to long life.  Many of our keenest officers remain
unmarried for that reason.  The Emperor would prefer each of us to
marry, or at least adopt a son.  For myself, I would like to steal one
of your splendid British boys and rear him up as a true German——"

Something sharp and keen and burning stabbed through Franky’s brain to
his vitals.  It would have been a relief to have insulted von Herrnung.
He set his teeth, fighting with the desire, as the guttural voice went

"I would teach him to hate you...."  The speaker sucked in his breath as
though he relished the idea exceedingly.  "You cannot think how he would
hate you!—my German-British Superman."

"By-the-by, the literary genius of Dreadnought type who invented the
Superman," began Courtley, who had been peaceably nibbling salted
pistachios, "can’t pronounce his name for ginger-nuts, but it sounds
something like a sneeze——"

Von Herrnung said stiffly:

"You doubtless speak of our great Nietzsche, whose triumphant thought
has crushed all other mental systems."

"Quite so.  Must be the chap!" said Courtley.  "That is, if he died a
lunatic....  But possibly I’m mixing him up with some other philosopher
of the crushing kind?"

"No, no.  It is true," corroborated von Herrnung.  "The brain of
Nietzsche gave way under the terrific strain of incessant creation.  How
should it be otherwise?"  He became ponderous, even solemn, when he
descanted upon the literary idol of Modern Germany.  "How should it
indeed be otherwise?" he demanded.  "And was it not the fitting crown of
such a career—the appropriate end to such a life-work?—to evolve the
Superman—and die!"

"Quite so, quite so!" Courtley agreed.  He smoothed his well-trimmed
beard with his broad hand, and his eyes assumed a meditative expression.
"Rather tantalising—always hearing about Germany’s Supermen and never
seeing any.  What sort of chaps are they?  I’m really keen to know."

"You have not to go far," returned von Herrnung.  His fine florid
complexion had suffered a deteriorating change. Savage anger boiled in
his blood.  He had thrown the iron gauntlet of German military
preparedness in the faces of these cool, well-bred, smiling English, and
brandished the iron thunderbolt of German intellectual supremacy—and
with this result—that they took his deadly earnestness as jest.
"_Kreutzdonnerwetter!_ these English officers....  The pig-dogs! the
sheep’s heads! ..."  He swallowed down the abusive epithets he would
have liked to pitch at them, and stiffened his huge frame arrogantly as
he stared in Courtley’s simple face:

"_Aber_—you have not far to go, to visualise the type conceived by
Nietzsche.  I and my comrades—_we_ are Supermen!"

"Thanks for explaining, frightfully!" said Courtley with artless
gratitude, as Brayham purpled apoplectically and even the Goblin
tittered behind her fan.  "Shall know what to ticket you now, you know.
Thanks very much!"

"You have read Nietzsche?" the sailor’s victim queried.

Said Courtley, with his best air of frank simplicity:

"His works were recommended to me by my doctor, when I had a bad attack
of insomnia, about a year ago. Ordered a volume of ’Thus Spake Zara
Somebody.’  Half a chapter did the business.  No insomnia since then.
Sleep like a mite in a Gorgonzola, the instant my head touches the
pillow—never read another word.  But heaps of friends in the Fleet’ll be
wanting to borrow the book presently, depend on it.  For we’ll all be
too scared of Germany to sleep—in the year 1916."

Laughter broke forth.  Lady Wathe gasped, dabbing her tearful eyes with
a lace-bordered handkerchief:

"Oh, Tido! will you dead-in-earnest Germans never learn what pulling a
leg means?"

"_Ach ja_!  I should have understood!"  He had stared, frowned, and
reddened savagely.  Now, with a palpable effort, his equanimity was
regained.  He turned with a smiling remark to Patrine Saxham, as Lady
Beauvayse breathed in Courtley’s ear:

"You perfect pet!  How I love you for that!"

"Man simply suffering for a set-down.  Good egg, you!" murmured Franky
in the other ear of the Commander.

"Felt sorry for him.  Had to do something—common humanity!" rejoined
Courtley, eating more and more pistachios.  "Seems as over-crammed with
their _Kultur_ as a pet garden-titmouse with coco-nut.  Vain too, but
that’s the fault of the women.  Lord! how they gush at those big,
good-looking blighters.  See the Saxham!—ready to climb into his
waistcoat-pocket and stop there.  Would, too, if she wasn’t built on
Dreadnought lines herself."

She was laughing into von Herrnung’s smiling visage as he offered her a
light from his cigar.  For with the arrival of coffee and liqueurs, the
fragrance of choice Havana and Turkish had begun to mingle with the tang
of Mocha, the heady bouquet of choice wines, and the odours of fruit and
flowers.  The screens of frosted glass were rearranged,—the ladies had
produced their cigarette-cases,—of gold with the monogram of the Goblin
set in diamonds; of platinum adorned with turquoises and pearls wrought
into the Beauvayse initial and coronet; and of humbler tortoiseshell,
bearing in fanciful golden letters the name "Patrine"——


"The Saxham girl" had taken the tortoiseshell cigarette-case from the
front of her low-cut, sleeveless bodice.  Von Herrnung had leaned
towards her, boldly exploring with his eyes the bosom where the trinket
had been hiding, and read the golden letters.  He smiled as he met her
puzzled eyes, saying:

"’Patrine’ is your name....  Now I know it I will not forget it!  Tell
me!"—he spoke in lowered tones—"why do you carry your cigarette-case
just in that place?"

She laughed, half-shutting her long eyes and slightly lifting her big
white shoulders.  "Simply for convenience—when I’m in evening kit.
Dressmakers don’t allow us poor women pockets in these days."

"It may be so!"  As von Herrnung spoke with a calculated roughness that
he had found useful in dealing with many women, he took the
cigarette-case from her, momentarily covering her hand with his own.  As
his curving fingers touched her palm, he felt the soft warm flesh wince
at the contact.  Her black brows drew together, her sleepy agate eyes
shot him a hostile sidewise glance.

"I have not offended?" he whispered in some anxiety. And she answered in
a louder tone, under cover of the talk, and laughter of the others:

"No! ... Only—I hate to be touched, that’s all."

He smiled under the crisp tight roll of his red moustache, and his
large, well-cut nostrils dilated and quivered.

"One day you will not hate it.  I will wait for that day. But—about your
cigarette-case—you do not now tell me the truth! ... The real reason is
more subtle.  You carry that thing there—under your corsage—to make live
men envious of an object that cannot feel!"

"Really! ... What a lot you must know about women!"

The words were mocking, but the voice that uttered them was big, warm,
and velvety.  Far above the ordinary stature of womanhood—you remember
that Franky regarded her as a great galumphing creature—her head would
yet have been much below the level of von Herrnung’s, but for the height
of the extraordinary diadem or turban that crowned her masses of dull
cloudy-black hair. Folds of vivid emerald-green satin rose above a wide
band of theatrical gilt tinsel, set with blazing stage rubies, and above
the centre of the wearer’s low, wide brow a fan-shaped panache of
clipped white ospreys sprang, boldly challenging the eye.  Thrown with
royal prodigality upon the back of the chair she occupied was an
opera-mantle of cotton-backed emerald-green velvet lavishly furred with
ermine and sables that were palpably false as the garish gold and jewels
of the diadem that crowned her, yet became her big, bold, rather brazen
beauty as well as though the Siberian weasel and the Arctic marten had
been trapped and slain to deck and adorn her, instead of the white
rabbit of ordinary commerce and the domestic pussy-cat.

                              *CHAPTER XI*

                            *PATRINE SAXHAM*

Who was the girl—the woman rather—who diffused around her so powerful a
magnetic aura, whom prodigal Nature had dowered with such opulence of
bodily splendour, that cheap, tawdry clothes and ornaments borrowed from
her a magnificence that conjured up visions of the Salammbo of Flaubert,
gleaming moon-like through her gold and purple tissues—of Anatole
France’s Queen of Sheba treading the lapis-lazuli and sardonyx pavements
of King Solomon’s palace in her jewelled sandals of gilded serpent-skin,
darting fiery provocations from under the shadow of her painted lashes
towards the Wise One rising from his cushions of purple byssus, between
the golden lions of his ivory throne?

What a voice the creature had! thought von Herrnung. Soft and velvety
like that dead-white skin of hers. The tortoiseshell case he held in his
big palm still glowed with the rich vital warmth of her.  His blood
tingled and raced in his veins; his hard, brilliant stare grew
languorous, and his mouth relaxed into sensuousness.  He said almost
stupidly, so keen was his enjoyment:

"You English ladies smoke a great deal, I think."

"Why should we leave all the pleasant vices to the men?"

She asked the queer question, not defiantly, but bluntly. Her strange
eyes laughed a little, as she saw Franky wince. "Lord Norwater hates me.
Well, that’s about the limit!" she told herself.  "And I helped on his
love-affair for little Margot’s sake!"  "I beg your pardon, Lord
Norwater!  You were saying something? ..."

"You’re an Advanced Thinker, aren’t you, Miss Saxham?  At least, my wife
tells me so," Franky began. "Well, I’m not!  But I’ve got my doubts as
to whether vice is pleasant, for one thing—and for another, whether the
general run of women in these days aren’t quite as vicious as the men?"

"He wants to be nasty....  Poor boy, what have I done to him?" passed
through the brain topped by the bizarre diadem.  But before its wearer
could reply, von Herrnung interposed:

"Naturally they are vicious—if they desire to please men.  A dash of
vice—that is the last touch to perfect an exquisite woman.  It is the
chilli in the _mayonnaise_, the garlic and citron in the _ragoût_, the
perfume of the carnation, the patch of rouge that lends brilliance to
the eye, the bite in the kiss! ..."

"The bite in the ... Great Snipe! what an expression!" thought Franky,
whose attack of propriety had reached the acute stage.  Patrine Saxham
repeated slowly, and with brows that frowned a little:

"’_The bite in the kiss_’...."

"You pretend not to understand..." said the guttural voice of von
Herrnung, speaking so that his wine- and cigar-scented breath stirred
the heavy hair that hid her small white ear.  "But you are wiser than
you would have me believe.  Are you not?  Tell me!—am I not right?"

He bent closer, and she broke a web that seemed in the last few moments
to have been spun about her, invisible, delicate, strong, making captive
the body and the mind. Her odd agate-coloured eyes laughed into his
jeeringly.  Her wide red mouth curved and split like a ripe pomegranate,
showing the sharp white teeth that, backed by a vigorous appetite and
seconded by a splendid digestion, had done justice to every course of
Brayham’s choice menu.

Men always waxed sentimental or enterprising towards the close of a
rattling good dinner.  Patrine didn’t care, not a merry little hang!
They might say and look what they liked, as long as they kept their
hands off.  At a touch, the quick revulsion came.

"You are amused....  I understand...."  Von Herrnung spoke between his
teeth, in a tone of stifled anger. "Always to rot; it is your English
fashion....  When you encourage a man to make love to you, you are
rotting. When you say sweet things to him—possibly you are rotting too?"

She turned her face away from him, striving to control her irresistible
laughter.  In vain; it took her as a sudden gale takes a pennant at the
masthead—seized and shook her—as von Herrnung could have shaken her had
they been alone.  He turned savagely from her; she heard him speak to
Brayham, who responded with what-whattings, his fleshy hand to his
deafest ear.  Von Herrnung repeated his utterance. Brayham goggled in
astonishment.  Courtley murmured to Franky:

"Hear what the blighter’s saying....  No keeping him down, is there? ...
Buoyant as one of his own Zeppelins!"

They looked and listened.  Brayham’s thick bull-neck was shortening as
his shoulders climbed to his mottled ears. They caught a sound between a
snort and a bellow.  Then Lady Wathe’s diamonds flashed all the colours
of the rainbow as she turned vivaciously to her friend....  Count Tido
wanted to propose a toast, the custom in dear, sentimental Germany....
Why shouldn’t he?  Rather amusing.  She begged him to go on.  Said von

"To-night the laugh goes much against me.  I have been most frightfully
rotted.  Now, in my country it is the custom when a guest has been made
game of that those who have laughed at him must drink a toast with
him—to show there is no ill-will."

"Never heard of such a custom—and I’ve lived in Germany a good deal."

This from Brayham.  The German persisted:

"Still, it is a custom, and it may be you will gratify me?"  He went on,
now addressing the company generally: "Here at the Spitz they have a
Tokayer that is very old and very excellent.  If I might order some?  It
would be amusing if you would all join me in drinking to The Day! ..."

The speaker, without waiting consent, beckoned to one of the attendants.
Brayham, his cockatoo-crest of stiff grey hair erect, stared, as at a
new and surprising type of the human kind.

But the words Brayham might have uttered were taken out of his mouth.  A
swift glance had passed between the English Naval officer and the rather
stupid, titled young Guardsman occupying the seat left of von Herrnung.
And while the Commander coolly intimated to the advancing waiter by a
sign that his services were not needed, Lord Norwater, lobster-red and
rather flurried, turned to von Herrnung and said, not loudly, yet
clearly enough to be heard by every guest at the table:

"Stop!  Sorry to swipe in, Count, but you’d better not order that wine,
I think!"

"You think not?" asked von Herrnung, with coolest insolence.

"I—don’t think so.  I’m dead-sure!" said Franky, getting redder.  "We
Britons laugh at brag and bluffing, and the gassy patriotism shown by
some foreigners we’re apt to call bad form.  We abuse our Institutions
and rag our Governments—we’ve done that since the year One—far as I can
make out.  And when other people do it we generally sit tight and smile.
We’ve no use for heroics.  But when the pinch comes—it ain’t so much
that we’re loyal.  We’re Loyalty.  We’re IT!"

With all his boggling he was so much in earnest, and with all his
earnestness so absurdly, quaintly slangy, that the listeners, men and
women of British race, whose blood warmed to something in his face and
utterance, were forced to struggle to restrain their mirth.  Some
inkling of this increased the speaker’s confusion.  He cast a drowning
glance at his bulwark Courtley, and Courtley’s eye signalled back to
his, "Good egg! ... Drive on, old son!"

"You’re a foreigner here, of course ..."  Franky pursued before the
German could interrupt him.  He appeared oblivious to his own analogous
case.  Perhaps for the moment the Hotel Spitz in the Place Vendôme,
Paris, and its gorgeous namesake in the London West End, were confused
in his not too intellectual mind.  He went on: "We’re ready to make
allowances—too rottenly ready sometimes.... But I read off the
iddy-umpties to Full Stop, a minute back....  Count von Herrnung, when
you ask English ladies and Englishmen—two of ’em in the Service—to drink
that toast with you—you must know you’re putting your foot in your hat!"

"Especially," said Courtley, as Franky collapsed, dewy all over and
wondering where his breath had gone to—"especially as—a friend of mine
happens to have heard that toast proposed rather recently during a Staff
banquet at a military headquarters in Germany.  And the words,
are—not—quite exactly flavoured to suit the British taste."

"’_To the Day of Supremacy.  On the Land and on the Sea, under the Sea
and in the Air, Germany Victorious for ever and ever!_’" said von
Herrnung, who had got upon his legs, and loomed gigantic over the
lace-covered, flower-decked table, now in the after-dinner stage of
untidiness, with its silver-gilt and crystal dishes of choice fruit and
glittering bonbons disarranged and ravaged, its plates littered, its
half-emptied wine-goblets pushed aside to make room for fragrant,
steaming coffee-cups in filigree holders, and tiny jewel-hued glasses of
Maraschino Cusenier, and Père Kermann.  There was a rustle, and a
general scraping-back of chairs.  Courtley had also risen, and Lord
Norwater.  A susurration of excitement had passed through the long,
lofty, brilliant dining-room.  People were getting up from the
tables—the pink-and-yellow sheets of _Paris Soir_, the late edition of
the _Daily Mail_, and another of the _Liberté_, were fluttering from
hand to hand....  And the shrill voice of Lady Wathe was heard.

                             *CHAPTER XII*

                      *THE GATHERING OF THE STORM*

"Sit down, Tido!" said Lady Wathe.  "What is the matter with everybody?
What are they talking about?  Tell a waiter to get us a paper!  What do
you say, Sir Thomas? Of course!  Stupid of me to forget.  To-day was to
be the official summing-up of the evidence in the Perdroux Murder Case.
A French Jury won’t guillotine a woman—you said they wouldn’t, Sir
Thomas, from the beginning.  But of course the verdict’s ’Guilty’ for
Madame! ..."

Brayham, with a King’s Bench cough, admitted that he had few misgivings
as to the ultimate upshot.  Upon the waiter’s return without a
newspaper, affirming a copy not to be procurable, judicial inquiries
elicited from the man that the general _furore_ for news was less due to
popular interest in the famous _cause célèbre_ than to popular thirst
for details with reference to the Assassinations at Serajevo. Which
brought from Lady Wathe the shrill query:

"Sarajevo—where’s Sarajevo?  Ask him about the Verdict—I simply must

The Verdict had been "Not Guilty," according to the waiter....  The
Goblin screamed:

"But she is!—she is!  Good heavens, my dear Sir Thomas! Isn’t it murder
to riddle an editor to death in his own office, before his subordinates,
with bullets from a revolver you’ve hidden in your muff?"

Brayham summoned up his best King’s Bench manner to answer:

"If he dies—and a jury don’t happen to decide that you’re innocent—the
evidence is against you, my dear ma’am!"

Lady Wathe’s vivacious gestures provoked astounding coruscations from
her panoply of jewels.  She had been certain from the first that there
would be no capital sentence.  But "Not Guilty." ... Surely it should
have been Mazas for life.  Or New Caledonia—didn’t they send murderesses
to New Caledonia?

Brayham, with a tone and manner even more deeply tinged with the King’s
Bench, begged leave to correct—arah!—his very dear friend’s impression
that the blameless and much-tried lady, now probably—aha—arah!—supping
in the company of her husband and her advocate in her own luxurious
dining-room, might, without libel, be called a murderess.
Like—aha!—many other highly-strung women, Madame Perdroux had had
recourse to the revolver as the _ultima ratio_.  But the Verdict
pronounced by the President of the Paris Court of Assize that afternoon

"Bother the Verdict!" snapped the Goblin.

Brayham, incensed at this irreverence, replied with acrimony.  The pair
wrangled as Paris had wrangled since March 16th, while the great,
crowded restaurant buzzed with the name of an obscure town in Eastern
Europe—"_Sarajevo, Sarajevo_"—tossed and bandied from mouth to mouth.

We have learned to our bitter cost the appalling significance of this
crime of Sarajevo, which had dwarfed in the estimation of the
keen-witted Parisians the most sensational _cause célèbre_ ever tried
before a French Criminal Court.

The Perdroux trial and its probable result had split Paris into hostile
factions.  The Press had attacked or defended, lauded or vilified the
chief personages of the drama with tireless energy for weeks.  The
Verdict of "Not Guilty" would have caused fierce rioting upon the
boulevards this sultry night of July.  Blood would have been spilt
between the partisans of Madame Perdroux and her opponents, but for this
unexpected bolt from the blue.

Berlin had had the story of the assassinations with its breakfast-rolls
and hot creamed coffee.  Now, in the blue-white glare of the great
electric arc-lamps of the Paris boulevards, men and women leaned over
one another’s shoulders to get a whiff of the big black letters on the
displayed contents-bills; at every kiosk and bookstall the
newspaper-vendors were sold out; much-thumbed copies of the papers were
bought by knowing speculators, to be sold and bought and sold again.

The Kaiser at Kiel was racing his own clipper when the operator of the
Imperial private wireless read a story from the notes of the singing
spark that smote him pale and sick. When his anointed master heard the
gory news, his chief regret seems to have concerned the untimely decease
of the partner of his "life-work."  "It will have," he said with
bitterness, "to be begun all over again!"

One wonders, in the blood-red light of four years of dreadful carnage,
seeing Hell and its dark Powers still unchained, and raging on this
War-torn earth of ours—what would have been the nature of the edifice
reared by these two Imperial craftsmen, had the younger not been removed
by a violent and sudden death?

Did the prospect of unlocking—with one touch on an electric button and
the scrawl of a wet pen—the brazen gates of Death and Terror ever strike
cold to the heart of the rufous Hapsburg Archduke?  Madness, we know, is
in the blood of his evil-fated House.  But, when the shots from a
Bosnian High School student’s revolver pierced Franz Ferdinand’s brain
and body, was he sane enough to realise that the crime of the Anarchist
had saved his own name from foul, indelible, and hideous infamy?  We
shall know when the trumpet of the Archangel sounds the Last Réveillé,
and the grave gives up its dead, and the Sea spews forth its victims,
and the secrets of that deeper abyss, the human heart, are revealed in
the sheer, awful Light that streams from the Throne of God.

                             *CHAPTER XIII*

                             *THE SUPERMAN*

People had for some time been rising, passing out through the oxidised
silver-framed glass doors of Spitz’s big brilliant dining-room; beyond
these the vestibule was now full to the walls, so that its palms and
tree-ferns rocked amidst the billows of a heaving human sea.  Many
guests lingered in conversation, standing in groups near the vacated
tables.  The glitter and blaze of jewels, adorning bizarre coiffures,
bare and powdered throats, bosoms, arms, and backs,—the dazzling display
of brilliantly-hued toilettes, made an _ensemble_ marvellously gay.  And
now, returning as they had arrived, but unattended by M. Spitz, came the
party of notables from the German Embassy, talking together in loud,
harsh, Teutonic accents.  Von Herrnung, erect, stiffening to the salute
as previously, remained in the rigid attitude until the Ambassador had
passed.  But this time the official finger beckoned.  He turned, pushed
back his chair, and in a stride, joined the squat, elderly figure. The
yellow-white, heavily-featured face with its stiff brush of white hair
above the square brain-box turned to him, the deeply-pouched, shrewd
grey eyes looked past _him_ to the table he had left.  The coarse mouth
under the white moustache with the brushed-up points, uttered a few
emphatic words.  Then, with a slight nod, the representative of the All
Highest at Berlin passed on.  The swing-doors opened and shut behind him
and his following.  And von Herrnung rejoined his party, saying with a
queer, excited breathlessness:

"The ladies will pardon....  His Excellency had something to say!"

The ladies were rising, looking for their theatre-wraps. He deftly
lifted the barbaric garment of green velvet and sable-edged ermines from
the back of Miss Saxham’s chair, and, opening it, held it to receive her
tall, luxuriant person, mentally commenting:

"With such hips, such a bosom, and such shoulders, the jade must be
twenty-eight or nine."  And remembering how boldly she had said to him
that she liked red men, he thought: "Amusement here....  Nothing needed
but time and opportunity—which this Bosnian affair reduces to a
minimum."  "_Gnädiges Fraulein_ will you not put on your _mantel_?"

She told him that she was too hot.  He insisted, with all the Teuton’s
dread of chill:

"But it will be cooler in the vestibule, and cooler still when we are
driving.  Do we not go on to a theatre?  I think Lady Wathe has told me

She shrugged her splendid shoulders.

"Nothing so proper.  The _Jardin des Milles Plaisirs_, on the Champs
Elysées.  We’re all dead nuts on seeing the new dance from São Paulo.
The thing that has exploded Tango and Maxixe, you know.  Look!—the
others are moving.  Don’t let’s lose them!  No!  I won’t take your arm.
Please carry my wrap with your coat."

"I will put my coat on.  Then I shall better carry your _mantel_."

An attendant deftly hung von Herrnung’s thin black, sleeveless garment
over his broad shoulders, and gave him his white silk wrap and soft
crush felt.  He slipped a coin into the man’s palm, its small value
being instantly reflected in the features of the receiver, and moved
towards the swing-doors with Patrine.  She said, as a slight block
momentarily arrested their progress:

"What are they all jabbering about?  Who has been assassinated?  What
has happened at this place with the crack jaw name? ..."

"Sarajevo..." came in von Herrnung’s guttural accent.

"Sarajevo....  Not that I know where it is," said the deep warm voice,
that was more like a young man’s baritone than a young woman’s
contralto.  And von Herrnung answered, with a renewal of that tingling

"Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia in Eastern Europe. When Austria
annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1909, she made her seat of Government
at Sarajevo.  The Slavs grumbled.  They wished for union with
Servia—that little nation of pig-breeders! ... They themselves—the
Bosnians—are stupid peasants, _dümmer Teufels!—Schafskopfs_! They
cultivate their land with the wooden ploughs that were used at the date
of the Trojan War....  But this does not interest you at all, I think?"

"How do you know it doesn’t interest me?"

"Because dress and jewellery and amusement are the chief things in your
life, _gnädiges Fräulein_.  You are not even interested in _der
Politik_, or in the higher _Kultur_.  The social progress of your own
country is nothing to you.  You are too——"

"Too frightfully stupid....  Thanks!"

"I did not say too stupid," von Herrnung contradicted. "But if you were
stupid, you are too hellishly handsome for that to matter in the least."

To be called hellishly handsome pleased her.  Her eyes gave him a
flashing side-glance.  As a surge in the crowd pressed her curving hip
against his tall, muscular body, she took his offered arm with a rough,
brusque grace.  They were near the swing-doors when she spoke:

"Tell me about the Sarajevo business....  Who is the official swell the
Trojan ploughmen have hoisted—as Lady Beau would say?"

"I will tell you.  It has happened only this morning——"

She felt the man’s powerful muscles thrill and become rigid with
suppressed excitement under the hand that rested on his arm.

"Two personages of the highest rank have been horribly assassinated.
The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, _Kronprinz_ of the Imperial House of
Austria, and his wife; you have heard of the _Gräfin_ Sophie Chotek,
created Duchess of Hohenberg?  Virtually she was
_Erzherzogin_—Archduchess—but the wife of the Archduke by a _mariage de
la main gauche_. A morganatic marriage—such unions have been heard of in
your virtuous England."

They had passed the swing-doors now, and mingled, with the crush in the
vestibule.  Patrine said, signalling with a pair of long black suéde
gloves and a vanity-bag of gilded metal chain-mail:

"There’s Lady Beau.  Behind the second column right of the entrance.
And here’s Captain Courtley coming to hurry us up!"

Courtley, smiling and unruffled as ever, dodged under the huge roseate
elbow of an immense lady in Oriental kincob tissues.  He gave his
message, turned and dived back again. The rich, womanly baritone of Miss
Saxham said, addressing von Herrnung:

"Lady Wathe and Sir Thomas Brayham have gone on in Lady Wathe’s
auto-brougham.  Lord Norwater has done a bunk.  Pretended he had an
appointment; he’s been frightfully fed up with all of us this evening.
Lady Beauvayse says her chauffeur is on the string all right, but about
a million cars are ahead of him.  Why did your Austrian Archduke and his
wife go to that place in Bosnia if it wasn’t healthy for Royalties?
Fancy!—they went to their deaths this Sunday morning!  Why does one
always forget it’s Sunday in Paris?"

"That English Sunday of yours," exclaimed von Herrnung, "is very good to
forget, I think!"

She gave her deep, soft laugh.  He went on rapidly:

"Of the Archduke and the Duchess I tell you, since you have asked me....
They inspected the troops—regiments of the Austrian garrison.  Then they
drove in their automobile along the Appel Quay, towards the Sarajevo
Town Hall.  They are passing beneath the shade of an avenue of tamarind
and oak trees when a bomb is thrown at them by a man hidden among the
branches....  The Archduke is very prompt—he wards off the bomb with his
arm.  He is not then hurt, nor is the Duchess.  But his _Adjutant_—in
the car behind them—is wounded in the neck. When they arrive at the Town
Hall the Mayor commences the address of welcome.  To him Franz Ferdinand
says angrily: ’_Halt den Mund!_ ... Shut up, you silly fellow! What the
big devil is the use of your speeches?  I came to Sarajevo on a visit,
and I get bombs thrown at me....  It is too damned rotten for anything!

"Yes, yes! ... Go on!"  She bit her lips, fighting a nervous impulse to

"So the Imperial cortège drove away, and a student threw at the Archduke
another bomb.  It did not explode, so he shot him with an automatic
revolver, an American Browning. The Duchess tried to cover him with her
body, and the assassin shot her also.  The Archduke begged her to live
for their children, but both victims died as they were being taken to
the Governor’s house....  They have arrested the assassins, he who tried
to kill, and the fellow who succeeded....  They are both young, and men
of Serb race.  They are rebels all—they hate their Austrian rulers.
Sarajevo is swarming with fellows of the same breed...."

"What will the Austrian Government do to them, now they’ve caught them?"

"To the regicides," von Herrnung returned harshly, "Austria will
do—nothing that very much matters.  It is not an important thing to
destroy two trapped rats.  But I think there will be an ultimatum from
Vienna to the Servian Government; and if the terms of that are not
complied with, then the Emperor of Austria may give the signal for his
monitors upon the Donau to open fire upon the capital of Belgrade."

Patrine asked negligently, as a new surge of the crowd thrust her tall,
lithe figure away from her companion’s, forcing her to tighten her hold
upon his arm:

"’Monitors?’ ... I used to think monitors were big schoolboys and
schoolgirls.  Senior pupils told off to keep order.  I was one myself
once....  Chosen because I was bigger, and noisier, and naughtier than
any other girl in my class...."

"Ha, ha, ha! ... Prächtig! ... That is capital!"  She could feel the
laughter shaking his big ribs.  "That is just what they are—those
monitors of the Donau.  Each is a big girl who keeps order _von anderen
Sorte_.  But they have turned-up noses, not Egyptian and beautiful like

He added, with the calculated roughness that had previously pleased her:

"You shall now put on your _mantel_.  For the car, I see, is open."  He
shrugged his broad square shoulders closer into his overcoat and pulled
up the collar about his throat, saying ill-temperedly: "Always does one
find it with the English.  It is _lächerlich_—that passion for the air."

"Lovely, did you say? ..."

Ignorant or careless that he had said "ridiculous," Patrine suffered him
to wrap her mock ermines about her, seeing above the frieze of waiting
figures that filled in the lower part of the picture framed by the
portico, the emerald-green bird-of-Paradise plume of Lady Beauvayse
whisk into the big white Rolls-Royce, past the neat black-haired head of
Courtley, and the peaked cap and pale Cockney profile of Morris, the
chauffeur.  She threw back a jest as she passed out:

"I’m glad you think it lovely.  It’s one of the nicest things about
us—that we’re keen on soap and water and can’t do without lots of fresh

She was in the car before his outstretched hand could touch her.  He
followed, letting Courtley precede him because he wished to sit
opposite, and the great Rolls-Royce purred out of the jam beneath the
illuminated glass archway, and in a moment was out of the Place Vendôme
and moving with the stream of vehicles down the Avenue of the Champs
Elysées.  In the mingling of moonlight and electric light the tawdry
paste jewels of Patrine’s preposterous diadem rivalled the costly
splendours of the jewelled fillets adorning Lady Beauvayse’s coiffure,
her _panache_ of white osprey flared above her broad, dark brows as
insolently as though they crowned a Nitocris or a Cleopatra. But—and
here was a titillating discovery—the strange face with its broad brows,
wide, generously-curving cheeks, and little rounded chin, did not belong
to a woman of thirty, or even twenty-five.  She was much younger than
the German, who plumed himself upon his _flair_ for the accurate dating
of women, had at first credited.  It would be amusing—he told himself
again—hellishly amusing, to cultivate this curious hybrid, half hoyden,
half _femme-du-monde_.

Sarajevo—still Sarajevo.  You caught echoes of the crime of that morning
in the tongues of twenty nationalities upon the Paris boulevards that
night.  People in automobiles and open carriages, people in the little
red and blue flagged taxis, people crowding the auto-buses and Cook’s
big open brakes, the army of people on foot, endlessly streaming east
and west along the great splendid thoroughfares, tossed the name of the
Bosnian capital backwards and forwards, as though it had been a
blood-stained ball.

A gay masculine voice called from a knot of chatterers standing near the
wide illuminated archway of electric stars and crowns and flowers under
which streamed a variegated crowd of pleasure-seekers as the big
Rolls-Royce deposited its load:

"_Nom d’un chien_!  What a pack of assassins these Serbians! ... And
yet—what if the whole show were got up by Rataplan at Berlin? ... His
bosom friend, you say—the big Franz Ferdinand?  _Zut!_ what of that? ...
Sometimes one finds inconvenient the continued existence of even a bosom

                             *CHAPTER XIV*

                         *A PARIS DANCE-GARDEN*

By "Rataplan" was meant the Kaiser, Patrine comprehended, as her
companion glanced over his shoulder at the candid speaker, muttering
something that sounded like a German oath.  But Lady Beauvayse was
twittering through a filmy screen of verd-blue chiffon, now discreetly
enveloping her lovely Romney head:

"We’re going to hunt up Lady Wathe and Sir Thomas. Take care of Miss
Saxham, Count von Herrnung, in case we get separated in the crush....
Don’t forget our programme, Pat.  A whiff of Café Concert ... Colette
Colin is billed to sing some of her old songs and the very newest of the
new ones....  Then we’re coming to the Pavilion de la Danse to see the
São Paulo sensation....  La Rivadavia and Herculano, and all the rest of
the crowd....  Meet you there....  So long!  Mind, you’re not to get

"In London you often hear La Colette," said von Herrnung, as he paid the
lean-jawed functionary in the gold-laced light-blue uniform—the usual
notice of free entry having vanished from the entrance—and passed with
his companion into the gravelled promenade of the open-air concert-hall.
"But to-night you will hear no songs of old France, no Chansons
Pompadour nor Chansons Crinoline. She comes to this place from her own
theatre to oblige an old comrade.  There is Nou-Nou in that box with
some smart women and the Turk who wears our Prussian Order of the Red
Eagle with the Star and Crescent of the Medjidie.  He is Youssouf Pasha,
the Sultan’s Envoy-Extraordinary. Nou-Nou has brought him to hear La
Colette.  Shall we not sit here?"

"Who is Nou-Nou?" Patrine asked, as she settled her tall, luxuriant
person on one of the little green-painted iron chairs.

"Who is Nou-Nou?" her companion echoed.  "You saw her to-day at
Longchamps in her black confection. Everybody was looking....  She is
wonderfully _chic_—Nou-Nou! May I be permitted to light a _zigarre_?

"Do! ... But—why is she so much the rage?  She isn’t even pretty, your
Mademoiselle Nou-Nou."  Patrine said it with her bright gaze fastened on
the famous Impropriety who had paraded under the chestnuts of Longchamps
in the sheath of black gauze unlined, save with her own notorious
attractions—both irresistible and fatal, judging by their recorded
effects upon excitable Parisian _viveurs_ and _gommeux_.  She saw a
triangular and oddly-crumpled face, rouged high upon the cheek-bones in
circular patches, a pair of almost extinguished eyes, indicated by
streaks of blue pencil, and caught a sentence screamed at the stout Turk
in a voice like a hoarse cockatoo’s.  Boldly erect upon the skull
adorned by a scanty thatch of lemon-yellow balanced a black feather,
long and attenuated as the wearer. Nou-Nou’s stick-like, fleshless arms,
the cadaverous and meagre torso unblushingly revealed by the transparent
casing of her upper person, might have enthralled a keen student of
anatomy.  But of feminine charms, in the accepted sense of the word, she
possessed not one, it seemed to Patrine.

"Do not look at her too hard, or she may send round and invite you to
supper," warned the laughing voice of von Herrnung speaking close to her
ear.  "She has all the vices—the good Nou-Nou!"

"Including the vice of indiscriminate hospitality," Patrine laughed; but
a little uncontrollable shudder rippled over her as she withdrew her
eyes from the painted, crumpled visage, leering with half-extinguished
eyes from under the canary-coloured wig.

"That is so.  Tell me—you and Lady Beauvayse seem great friends—quite
inseparable...."  He leaned nearer, his bold eyes closely scrutinising
her face.  "How comes it that she leaves you alone in a Paris
dance-garden: with me, whom you have met to-night—for the first time?"

"She knows I can take jolly good care of myself, wherever and with
whomsoever I may happen to be!"  Her black brows frowned; it was evident
she resented his criticism. "And—what are you getting at?  What’s the
matter with poor old Paris?  You know—perhaps it sounds odd!—but I’ve
never been in Paris before....  And I love it! Down to the ground—it
suits me!  It’s so gay and brightly-coloured and pagan.  The public
buildings and parks are dreams; the shops—too entrancing for anything!
And this place, with its jabber and music and stagy illuminations,
trellises where real roses mix up with artificial ones—ornamental beds
of geraniums and calceolarias and thingumbobs bordered with smelly
little oil lamps, gilt band-stands, concerts, and lovely trees in
blossom....  Is it so luridly awful?  To me, it’s rather sweet!  Of
course the dancing—everybody knows the dancing is pretty well the limit.
But one has seen such a lot of Tango in London—the bloom will be pretty
well rubbed off!"

"Yet some lingers.  You have still something to learn from Herculano and
La Rivadavia! ..."

"Do I strike you as such a perfect daisy of inexperience?"  Something in
his tone stung, for the full white cheeks coloured faintly.  "You didn’t
talk to me at dinner as though I were one!"

"How could I help that?" he asked, with the roughness that had
previously intrigued her.  "Am I to blame that you look like Phryne or
Aspasia when you are only Mademoiselle de Maupin—before she set out upon
her travels? For you have only got as far as Paris with your friend Lady
Beauvayse.  Why does she bring you?  I am curious to know."

"Because I am her paid secretary and amanuensis."  Patrine brought the
words out with a rush; it was clear that she thought the candour a
necessity, but hated it.  "She can’t get on without one, and her
husband, Lord Beauvayse—awful little bounder!—won’t stand her having a
man.  Don’t great ladies have secretaries in Germany?  Can’t you see me
doing Lady Beau’s correspondence in my fearful fist—enclosing cheques to
people who solicit donations for charities with a committee and Hon.
Treasurer—tearing up the begging letters full of howlers in the
spelling-line—smelling of bad tobacco and beer or gin?  Then I have to
keep her posted in her engagements, go to shows, and functions, and
kettledrums with her when she hasn’t a pal handy—that’s where my share
of the fun comes in.  Just as I’m visiting Paris, as I dare say I shall
visit other centres of lively iniquity—in the character of the sheep-dog
that doesn’t bow-wow at the wrong man!"

"You should bow-wow at me."  His teeth were hidden, but his eyes were
crinkled up with soundless laughter. "For I am a very wrong—a very
wicked man!"

"How sad!"  Her brows were still frowning, but her wide red mouth was
beginning to curl up at the corners. "Couldn’t you reform?  Is it too

"I hope so!" he answered her.  "For if I were good I should possess no
attraction for a woman of your type.  And to charm you I would give my
soul—if I had a soul!"

"Great Scott!  You’re candid....  Modest too.... And complimentary!"

"I am candid, because I cannot help myself."

Three comedians had come upon the stage.  She told him not to talk to
her.  She wanted to see the turn; she liked music-hall stuff.  He
obeyed, mentally congratulating himself on having ascertained her social
status, something better than a typist, hardly on the same level with
his sister Gusta’s _dame de compagnie_.

While his bold eyes read the book of her provoking beauty, the
performance on the stage, backed by the deep green palmate foliage and
white or ruddy candelabra-like blossom-sprays of the chestnuts, framed
by a broad band of electric lamp-flowers, was culminating to its final
gag.  A preposterously fat man attired in the historic low-crowned hat,
Union Jack waistcoat, brass-buttoned blue tail-coat, leathers and
hunting-tops of the traditional John Bull, another comedian in the
legendary costume of M. Jacques Prud’homme, and a truculent-looking
personage whose Teutonic French accent, spiked silver helmet with the
Prussian eagle, First Imperial Guards cuirass and tunic, breeches and
spurred jack-boots, in combination with a well-known moustache with
upright ends, a huge Iron Cross, and a great many other property
decorations, left no doubt as to the political bent of the scrap of

It was an ordinary bit of comic knockabout, to which the tragic
circumstances of the day lent a peculiar tang.  One has seen it before,
played by the three comedians, in the green-baize aprons, brown duffel
knee-breeches, and shirt-sleeves sported by the waiters of low-class
Paris or Munich brasseries.

In the centre of the stage, instead of a bright-hooped beer-barrel on a
wooden cellar-stand, was a revolving globe representing the World.  And
each of the three comedians, being armed with a tumbler, a spile-awl,
and a spigot-tap, proceeded, with appropriate patter, gesture, and
grimaces, to insert his spigot, draw, and drink.  John Bull turned the
globe to the United Kingdom, and tapped the big black patch in East
Middlesex.  Creamy-headed London porter filled his glass.  He held it
up, nodded a "Here’s to you!" and toped off.  M. Prud’homme punctured
France in the rich vine-growing district of Epernay.  Champagne crowned
the goblet, and he drank in dumb show to Gallia, the land of love,
laughter, and wine.  It was then the turn of the Teuton.  He bored, and
Brandenburg yielded a tall bock of foaming blonde lager.  He sucked it
down with guttural _Achs_ of delight.

But this was not all.  John Bull exploited the East Indies. A stream of
rubies and emeralds filled his glass.  He bored deep in the Union of
South Africa—diamonds and gold-dust heaped the vessel.  Fired by his
success, M. Prud’homme inserted his spigot into wealthy Bordeaux,
whipped it out, applied his lips, and drank deep.  He corked the oozing
spot and tapped Algerian Africa.  Coffee rewarded him, fragrant and
richly black.  He next exploited Pondicherry, Chandernagore on the
Hooghly, French Equatorial Africa, and New Caledonia.  Nothing came.  He
tried Cochin China, and drew off a glass of yellow tea at boiling-point.
Encouraged to drink the strange beverage by the appreciative pantomime
of his British neighbour, he swallowed it, with results of a Rabelaisian
nature, at which everybody laughed heartily, including Patrine.

It was now the turn of the Teuton.  He drew German beer from Togoland,
Cameroon; German South-West and South-East Africa yielded an indifferent
brand of the beverage.  German New Guinea in the Pacific, the Solomon,
Caroline, and other islands, with Asian Kiao-Chao, merely wetted the
bottom of the glass with a pale fluid, German beer by courtesy.
"_Sapperlot_!  _Der Teufel_! _Kreuzdonnerwetter_!"  He tasted, spat,
stamped, and sputtered forth strange expletives, M. Prud’homme’s terror
at these unearthly utterances being provocative of more humour of the
Rabelaisian kind.  Then he decided to try again, excited to envy by the
spectacle of the stout Briton drawing gold from Australia, gold from
Canada, gold from New Zealand and the West Indies, and gold from Ceylon,
gold from the Crown Colonies in China, gold from the Gold Coast, gold
from Rhodesia and Nigeria, gold from everywhere; filling the capacious
pockets of his blue brass-buttoned coat, of his tight breeches, of his
nankeen waistcoat, until he bulked enormously, a Bull of Gargantuan

Such wealth roused respect in Prud’homme, who esteems the yellow metal.
He embraced the Briton, heartily congratulating him.  This roused the
Teuton’s ire.  He seized the spigot and once more plunged it into
Germany, Prussia, Bavaria, Saxony—each of the States yielding beer,
beer, BEER.  He went on, tapping, filling, and guzzling.... Twelve full
tumblers and he had begun to swell most horribly.  Fifteen—and his
rotundity equalled that of John Bull.  But one State remained untapped.
He swilled down the twenty-fourth bock, drawn out of Lubeck—plunged the
spigot into the Reichsland—once Alsace-Lorraine——

And the big glass crimsoned with a sudden spurt of blood.

It was over in an instant, the comedians had skipped nimbly from the
scene, the globe had developed a pair of very thin human legs and
followed them off at a proscenium-wing, before many of those who had
witnessed, clearly understood.  Only the men and women of Gallic race
among the cosmopolitan, polyglot audience answered with a deep, inward
thrill to the ruby gush that told how the blood of France still ran red
in the throbbing arteries of the beloved, reft, alienated province, in
spite of her forty-five years of separation, in defiance of the loathed
laws, customs, language, service, all the gyves rivetted on her by the
Teuton, her conqueror.  Now round after round of applause signified
their comprehension.  But the comedians did not answer the call.

Von Herrnung, who had worn the same contemptuous smile for every phase
of the clumsy by-play, relaxed his stiff features.  A stout tenor from
the Opera appeared and sang a Spring song by Tchaikovsky, following it
with the exquisite Serenade of Rimsky Korsakov, "Sleep, Sad Friend."

The tenor was recalled.  Colette Colin succeeded him. She sang "_Notre
Petite Compagnon_" and "_La Buveuse d’Absinthe_" to the accompaniment of
a pale, lean, red-nosed man with a profile grotesque as ever adorned a
comic poster; who touched the piano-keys as though they were made of
butter; and had a way of sucking in his steep upper-lip and cocking his
eye at the star as he waited on her famous efforts, that made Patrine
shake with suppressed laughter on her green iron chair.

The last ironic line of Rollinat’s ballad, marvellously uttered rather
than sung, died out upon a stillness.  A storm of approval broke.  Men
and women stood up applauding in their places, and the singer came back,
to sigh out the bitter-sweet lyric of Jammes, "_Le Parle de Dieu_."
Then, while her name still tossed on the surges of human emotion,
backwards and forwards under the electrics, Colette Colin, the pet of
Paris, the eclipser of the famous Thérésa, was gone.  Something of the
yearning anguish of Jammes, who sees Religion as a dusty collection of
ancient myths and folk-tales; to whom Faith is mere superstition, but
who would give his all to be able to pray once more as in childhood, had
given the girl lumps in the throat as she listened to Colette Colin.
Though, unlike the sad, Agnostic poet, Patrine had no tender,
sentimental memories in connection with a mother’s knee.

Not from Mildred Saxham had she learned her first childish prayer, but
from a procession of nurses; beginning with "Now I Lay Me Down" and
"Gentle Jesus," instilled by Hannah, a Church of England woman,
continuing with the Lord’s Prayer, insisted on by Susan, a Presbyterian;
culminating in the "Our Father" "learned the childer" by Norah the Irish
Catholic, a petition which—minus the final line—was just the same as the
Lord’s Prayer.  Also the Creed in English, and a surreptitious "Hail
Mary" which brought about the sudden exit of Norah from the domestic

For teaching Patrine and Irma about God and Heaven and all that, was
sufficiently interfering, said Mrs. Saxham, but when it came to Popery,
_rank Popery_, it was time the woman went.  So Norah ceased to be, from
the point of view of the little Saxhams—and He who had risen above the
horizon of childish intelligence, a Being vaguely realised as
all-powerful and awful, great and beneficent, stern and tender, sank and
vanished at the same time.

But the Idea of Him remained to be merged in the personality of the
child Patrine’s dada.  Dada, so handsome and jolly, and nearly always
kind to his rough little romping Pat.  The boy, Patrine’s senior by
sixteen months, had died in infancy.  Captain Saxham was always gloomy
on the deceased David’s birthday.  Mildred reserved a nervous headache
of the worst for the anniversary, the kind that is accompanied by temper
and tears.

She was indifferent to Patrine, who resembled the Saxhams.  But she was
devoted to Irma, her own image bodily and mentally.  Thus nothing
interfered with Patrine’s adoration of her father.  The handsome,
genial, ex-officer of cavalry was his daughter’s god, until Mildred tore
away the veil of Deity, broke the shrine and cast down the idol, one day
when Patrine was fourteen years old.

The girl learned that Captain Saxham’s noisy fun and alternating fits of
rage were due to over-indulgence in brandy-and-soda.  That he gambled
away Mildred’s income over cards and Turf speculations, as he had wasted
the sum of money for which his Commission had been sold. That he was
"not even faithful"—that he spent week-ends "at hotels with fast women";
that he was not worthy the sacrifice Mildred had made for him.

Had she not for his sake jilted his younger brother, Owen! Even on the
verge of their marriage; the presents received; the house taken and
furnished; the trousseau ready, everything perfect to the last pin in
the wedding veil.  Nobody could resist David when he chose to woo, but
why, why had Mildred yielded?  So fierce a sense of shame awakened in
the daughter as she listened, that it seemed to her as though her face
and body scorched in the embrace of an actual, material flame.

"How could he? ... How could you? ... Betray Uncle Owen....  One of you
was as low-down as the other, to play a beastly, sneaking game like

"You insult your mother and father.  Leave the room!" commanded Mildred.
And Patrine left it, vigorously slamming the door.

Captain Saxham, who had sold out of the Army when Patrine and Irma were
respectively seven and six years old, never knew what he had lost in the
esteem of his elder daughter.  She loved him still, but he had ceased to
be her god. They lived at Croybourn and occupied three sittings at one
of its several Anglican Churches.  The Vicar, a strenuous man, whipped
in Patrine and Irma for Confirmation classes. They studied the
Thirty-Nine Articles, the Athanasian Creed, and dipped once more into
the Protestant Church Catechism, first instilled at the certified High
School for the Daughters of Gentlemen—an establishment they attended as
day-pupils, and were to leave, without passing the Oxford Secondary, in
the following year when Captain Saxham died.

For David, that cheerful, easy-going Hedonist, dropped off the perch
quite suddenly, in the smoking-room of his London Club.  In life he had
been of the easy-going type of Christian, who avoids open scandal, and
hopes to die at peace with the clergyman.

An attack of cerebral effusion had anticipated the clergyman.  Mildred
and Irma wept bitterly, Patrine sat dry-eyed.  Even in the face of the
new tombstone at Woking Cemetery, testifying to the many virtues of
David, as soldier, husband, and father, her stiff eyelids remained
unmoistened by a tear.  At the base of the scrolled Cymric Cross ran a
text in leaded letters:


The undertaker had recommended the text to the widow because it
contained the right number of letters required to fit in at the bottom.
But did it fit in, Patrine had sometimes wondered, quite so
appropriately, at the close of her father’s life?

She treasured his portrait, taken at the age of thirty, the tinted
presentment of a handsome, stupid young officer, resplendent in the gold
and blue and scarlet of a crack Dragoon regiment.  It had fallen to her
keeping when her mother had re-married.  But she cherished no illusions
regarding the original.  How often, since her own eyes had been opened
to the fact of their existence, had she not screened David’s vices from
strangers’ eyes.

She had made him her ideal, and Mildred had revealed him to her as
vicious, unprincipled.  She could not forgive her mother for telling her
those horrors, she, Mildred—seemed to forget whenever she was pleased.
But Patrine had never forgotten.  She would wake at night even now with
the dry sobs shaking her....  To have been able to believe in that dead
father as noble, chivalrous, good, would have been so sweet; she had
shed big surreptitious tears in sympathy with the anguish of Jammes, who
would have so loved to believe in the existence of Almighty God, and the
dear little Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, and the holy Angels, because
Faith is so restful, _si paisible_....

                              *CHAPTER XV*

                         *THE BITE IN THE KISS*

But von Herrnung was saying, as they moved with a straggling procession
of similar pleasure-seekers, over smooth sanded pathways between beds of
geranium and verbena and lobelia, ivy-leaved geranium and gaily coloured
foliage-plants, bordered with little twinkling lamps:

"Shall I tell you what I have just heard as those people passed us?  The
tall man with the white moustache, and the chic little woman in the
Spanish _mantilla_.  She told her friend that we make a handsome couple.
Perhaps that makes you a little angry? ... Shall I make you still more
angry?  Well then, listen? ... If we were really a couple you would not
have that so-black hair...."

"Why not?"  He had roused her curiosity.  She put away the little damp,
laced handkerchief.  "Would your cruel usage of me have turned it

"Not that, but you would have added the one touch that makes perfection.
You are too sombre—too much like a night in October with all that cloudy
blackness....  You would have bleached and dyed your hair—not yellow,
nor yet orange—nor even flame....  The colour of beech-leaves in winter,
as one sees them burning against a snow-bank. And—all the women would be
crazy with jealousy—and all the men would be dying at your feet!  For
you would be Isis then—you would be the Sphinx-woman of whom La Forgue
wrote and Colette has sung to us.  You would be hellishly, divinely

"Hellish again."  She gave her low, deep laugh, prolonging it a trifle
stagily.  "What do you bet me I don’t—do what you said?"

"Bleach and dye...?"

"That’s it."  She nodded.  "To the colour of—what was it?  ’Beech-leaves
in winter.’ ..."

"Against a snow-bank."  He added: "The snow is your wonderful skin.  And
I will bet you four hundred and twenty marks—that is twenty pounds
English.  Is it agreed? ... Do you not say—Done? ..."

"Twenty pounds...."  She shrugged her big white shoulders.  "My dear
man, I haven’t got twenty pounds in this blessed old world!"

He hesitated; finally said with reluctance:

"I will lend you twenty pounds—it will cost you twenty pounds to have
your hair done here in Paris....  But you will be _sehr schön_—the money
will be well spent.  No? ..."—for she had shaken her head, frowning.
"It is offered—why will you not accept?"

"Because I won’t....  There are some things I draw the line at.
Borrowing money’s one of them."

"Then I will bet you my magpie pearl—you may have seen it"—he displayed
the ornamented little finger—"against that not-very-good diamond you
wear on your left hand."

She burst out laughing and repeated through her laughter: "’Not very
good.’  I call that insulting....  When it cost me fifteen francs in the
Palais Royal.  Well, done with you!"

"It is done!  But you have not done with me."  Von Herrnung’s tone had a
new note of triumph.  He urged: "You go back to London—when? ... The day
after to-morrow....  _Gut!_ ... I have myself to visit London upon
business—I shall see Isis with her beautiful new hair.  One thing more.
An address where I may call and see it.  Be quick!  We turn down here!

Patrine protested, peering with narrowed eyes through the dusk-blue
twinkling semi-darkness.  "But no! ... That big marquee-thing at the end
of this avenue—with all the festoons of lights and the ring of promenade
about it—surely that’s the _Pavilion de la Danse_?"

"_Halt den Mund!_"  His hand closed peremptorily on her arm: he hurried
her down the trellised vine walk that invited on the left of them, as
light measured footsteps padded on the gravel, and a man ran past
calling, as it seemed, to somebody ahead:

"Miss Saxham ahoy! ... Lady Beauvayse——"

"He’s calling me.  It’s Captain Courtley...." Patrine persisted.

"Let him call!  Are you not with me?"  Von Herrnung’s tone was
masterful.  "You shall go to him when you have given me that London

She was amused and yet annoyed by his persistency.

"Oh, all right!  ’The Ladies’ Social Club, Short Street, Piccadilly,
West.’  That’s where I’m generally to be found when I’m in town."

"_Sehr gut_!  Tell me once again, then I shall not forget, no!"

"Write it on your cuff!"

"It is written in a safer place," he told her.  "We Prussian officers
are trained to remember without writing things down.  A face, an
address, a conversation, the outlines of a country.  Though for
_reconnaissance_ there is nothing like _die Photographie_."  He added:
"When we meet in London I shall be able to tell you everything you wore

"Really! ... How flattering! ... You’ve made a mental inventory?"

They were retracing their steps to the avenue recently quitted.  He
walked with noiseless strides behind the tall, supple figure as it moved
between the trellised vines and roses, gowned with its flaunting diadem,
robed in the insincere splendours of the opera-mantle already described.

"As you say.  I shall be able to tell you that the back of your _mantel_
was cut in a V-shape nearly reaching to your waist-line.  Shall I tell
you why?"

"If you’re keen to...."  She felt a scorching breath between her
shoulders and quickened her pace, making for the avenue.  But he moved
with her, his voice came thickly: "Because your back is so superbly
beautiful you cannot bear to hide it from men!"


She whirled about, glaring like an angry leopardess, her strong white
arm upraised to strike.  Face, throat, and bosom glowed with painful
crimson.  Between her violated, insulted shoulders, his furious kiss
still burned and stung.

"How dare you touch me!" she gasped.  But he had shot past her even as
she turned.  He was running towards the avenue, calling gaily:

"Were you looking for us, Lady Beauvayse?  Here we are!"

"Cad, cad!" she stammered.  "Insufferable! beastly!"  Then, because a
scene was quite out of the question, she went forward with head held
high, and resentment heaving her broad bosom, to meet Lady Beauvayse.

"Pat!  You needle in a haystack," cried her friend, "where did you get

"Nowhere.  We missed you at the Café Concert," Patrine began.

"And then," von Herrnung explained, "we happened to take the wrong turn.
But we have not gone far before we are recalled."

"—To the path of probity," suggested Lady Beauvayse, adding: "And in
this instance the path of probity leads to the _Pavilion de Chahut_."
She explained to Patrine: "_Chahut_ is the modern version of the
_can-can_—famous in the days of the Second Empire; when the great
cocodettes of the Court of the Tuileries—rivals of Cora Pearl and
Skittles and other naughty persons—did high-kicking under the rose here,
and they called the place Mabille."

It was not easy to get near the Pavilion, so dense and variegated a
crowd had congregated before its illuminated entrance.  But the entrance
fee was doubled.  Gold must be paid to see the famous São Paulo dance.
Thus many would-be pleasure-seekers of the less affluent kind turned
back disappointed from the row of gilt turnstiles under the blazing
archway, compelled to content themselves with the outer promenade.

Breasting the human eddy caused by these, Patrine and her party passed
the barrier, climbed a flight of shallow gilt marble stairs carpeted
with pink plush and decorated with roses and tree-ferns and reached the
elevated promenade. Set within the circumference of the outer one, it
commanded a complete view of the circular ball-room, to whose level
descended from it at intervals yet other flights of broad gilt stairs,
similarly carpeted and flower-decked for the convenience of those who
wished to join the dancers, or return from the ball-room to the level of
the promenade.

The revels were in full swing.  Standing upon the brink, looking down as
into a cockpit, you saw Patrine, superb in her false diadem and mock
ermines, leaning her bare white hand upon a velvet-covered rail.  At
first she could only make out a giddying whirl of arms and heads and
shoulders. Presently, the picture began to clear.

To the wail, clang and clash of strange, discordant, exotic music,
rendered by an orchestra of coloured performers, two wide circles of
dancers rhythmically spun.  The floors they danced on were set at
different levels, and rotated automatically,—each floor revolving in a
different direction. Coloured lights, flung at intervals from reflectors
in the ceiling, conveyed to Patrine the impression of staring down upon
the whirling planes of a huge gyroscopic top.

Only the central space of shining parquet was void within the double
circle of gyrating dancers.  A crash from the orchestra and three
couples, oddly costumed, leaped suddenly out upon the floor.  Patrine
could not make out where they had come from.  They appeared, and there
was a slight commotion.  A hedge of applauding spectators, four or five
deep, formed about the central, stationary patch of parquet.  The music
changed, the six Brazilians began the famous dance.

They were not beautiful to look at it seemed to Patrine, the men,
familiarly styled by voices in the crowd as Lauro, Pedro, and Herculano,
being undersized, sleek-headed, lithe and sallow, attired in faultlessly
fitting evening dress-coats, white vests, black satin knee-breeches,
black silks, and buckled pumps.  They wore shallow collars of curious
cut, lawn-frilled shirts and wide black neckties.  Their female
companions were swarthy as Indians, even through their paint, and plain
of feature.  But their superb hair and eyes, the rounded grace of hip
and waist and limb, the slenderness of throat and wrist and ankle,
testified, like their tiny feet and high-arched insteps, to a strain of
Spanish blood.

"La Rivadavia, Alexandrina, and Silvana," the eager spectators named
them.  They wore transparent sheaths, and brief, oddly _bouffante_
overskirts, like flounced muslin lamp-shades with a boldly suggestive
forward tilt.  They began the dance with some familiar Tango figures.
The poses, the approaches, the hesitations, were well known to Patrine.

"Nothing very new....  But—the music made by those buck niggers!
’_Bizzarramente_’ isn’t the word for it. One expects to see gombos
covered with serpent-skin, trumpets of elephant-tusk, skull-rattles, and
all the paraphernalia of Obeah in the orchestra, instead of those huge,
superb brass wind-instruments, cymbals as big as table-tops and ten-foot
silver trumpets, like poor de Souza’s....  Raised in the States, but
wasn’t he a Brazilian by birth?"  It was the voice of Lady Beauvayse,
and von Herrnung’s answered from behind Patrine:

"It may be so.  But the _Blechinstrumente_ and the _Blasinstrumente_—for
the biggest of those they have to go to Germany.  Nowhere else can they
be made as there.... Bravo! ... _Bis—bis!_"

He applauded....  Everybody was applauding.  The gyroscopic whirl of
dancers had become stationary.  All now were eager spectators.  And the
three couples from São Paulo had reached the culminating point of a
uniquely curious and exotic figure.  Savage and violent, sinuous and
creeping; suggestive of the nocturnal gambols of enamoured jaguars, in
the deep primeval forests of Brazil.

"Horrid!  One expects them to lash tails and roar.... I’ve got what Mrs.
Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch called ’cold clams walking up my backbone.’"
Lady Beauvayse shuddered and made a pretty grimace.  "All the same I
think I’ll go down and look at them a little closer.  Ah-h! ... Good
grapes!  Why, he simply picked her up by the scruff of the neck with his
teeth and shook her....  I’ve just _got_ to see that done over again!"

She was gone, with a whisk of the emerald bird of paradise and a waft of
_parfum très persistant_.  Captain Courtley vanished in her wake.
Patrine made no motion to follow them.

The tense excitement, the pungent exhalations rising from the crowded
ball-room were affecting her brain.  She felt giddy, and the steady
pressure of the crowd behind her was thrusting her to the very verge of
the promenade.  She yielded automatically, unconscious of danger near.

You are to see her there, poised on the verge of the rose-carpeted
precipice, her hand gripping the velvet-covered railing, her wide
nostrils distended, her broad bosom heaving as she inhaled the sultry,
vitiated atmosphere, heavy with a myriad perfumes, tainted by a thousand
breaths.  Her stare, lifeless as the enamelled, glittering regard of
some Princess-mummy of Old Egypt, was fixed upon the artists, of whom
two couples had retired, as though in despair of competition with the
chief favourites, leaving La Rivadavia and her comrade Herculano in
possession of the floor.

And the passions expressed by the rhythmical, sinuous movements of these
dancers grew moment by moment less human, and more bestial.  Art of the
most consummate was displayed and degraded.  Beauty and Truth shone
pre-eminent in the hideous display.  Now the woman sank towards the
ground, with supple limbs outstretched and her wild head thrown back in
fierce surrender.  Her white fangs gleamed, her dumb mouth seemed to
roar.  And as her conqueror crept stealthily towards her, the play of
his great muscles could be seen beneath his civilised attire, as though
his supple body had been clothed with the tawny-golden, black-dappled
hide of the Brazilian jaguar.

As Herculano crouched and sprang, La Rivadavia’s muscles visibly
tightened.  She bounded high, turned in the act....  Their gleaming
fangs clashed in mid-air.  And from the massed spectators came a hiss of
excitement, "_Th-h-h!_ ..." like the hissing of a thousand snakes.

"Great Scott!" Patrine heard herself saying.  "_Great—Scott!_"

She no longer heard von Herrnung harshly breathing behind her....  He
had moved to the leftward.  His tall, broad-shouldered figure now stood
against the railing some dozen feet away.  His well-cut face, seen in
profile, was purplish-red to the crisp, scarlet waves topping his high
square forehead.  The big white hands that held the glasses glued to his
eyes, jerked, and as he pressed against the railing Patrine knew that he
was shuddering.  Now he looked at her, and his ravaged face was
terrifying to the girl.

"Will you not..." he began, thickly.

She quivered, cast a look about; saw the ugly emotion under which he
laboured reflected in every face within her range of vision, as round
after round of plaudits rose to the roof of the pavilion, escaping
through the wide-open spaces between its gilded, rose-twined pillars
into the night.  The rafters vibrated with demands for a repetition of
the popular sensation.  The dancers accepted the encore.

If von Herrnung beckoned now, asking Patrine to go down with him amongst
the acrid exhalations of that cockpit of variegated lights, thronged
with excited men and strangely-bedizened women, rent by devastating
emotions, drunk with strange excitements, would Patrine say Yes or No?

_Ouf!_ but it was hot.  How thick the air was with those illusion
perfumes.  And from whence was that cool breeze blowing that suddenly
freshened the heavy air? ...

                             *CHAPTER XVI*

                           *THE WIND OF JOY*

Patrine drew back from the edge of the promenade.  A stout, swarthy
Frenchman, a Southerner evidently, whose full brown face streamed with
little rills of perspiration, stepped nimbly into her vacated place.
His female companion instantly took his.  The same movement was
repeated—the packed bodies seemed to melt before her.  In a few more
steps she had merged from the crowd, upon the outer edge of the elevated

There was another velvet railing there, and steps leading down to the
promenade upon the ground-level.  Against the background of starlit sky
and illuminated gardens stood the tall figure of a man.  He was
broad-shouldered and lightly built, the poise and balance of his figure
admirable.  But for the gleam of his living eyes in his tanned face, and
the movements of his head as he turned it from side to side, evidently
seeking somebody, he might have been a statue of Mercury cast in
light-hued bronze.

For he wore loose, waist-high leggings strapped at the ankles, and a
belted gabardine of thin light brown material, while a cap with an
upturned brim and ear-flaps dangled from his sunburnt hand.  And a
uniformed official, all lacquered moustaches and gold-laced blue cloth,
stood gesticulating a few paces from him, keen on defending from so
unceremonious an intruder the integrity of the Upper Promenade.

"Monsieur cannot possibly descend into the ball-room ... the costume of
Monsieur is not appropriate.  It offends against good taste.  It
outrages the proprieties.... It is _peu convenable_ even that Monsieur
should be here."

Patrine heard the protest, saw it driven home by swift expressive Gallic
gestures, caught a gleam of mirth in the eyes of the oddly-garbed
intruder, and the quirk of a smile at the corners of his mouth.  No
doubt the suggestion of the proprieties in connection with the
traditions of Mabille had evoked it.  She liked his face; it was lean
and hard and rather hatchety, with a brave outlook of clear light eyes
under the marked eyebrows, thick and straight and silvery-fair against
his sunburnt skin.  To her woman’s eyes, Fatigue was stamped upon it and
anxiety, and a kind of rueful impatience, as he apologised for the
necessity of the intrusion in fragmentary but excellently accentuated
French. He came in search of a friend, who was here and must be found;
it was imperative...

"There is to-morrow!—there is always to-morrow!" the official stated
with a wave.

"That’s just the point....  To-morrow! ..."  The stranger’s forehead was
ploughed with lines of anxiety. He spoke in English now—the well-bred,
modern, clipped English of the public school and the University.  "No!
you don’t understand"—for the official had vigorously disclaimed all
knowledge of the strange, barbarous tongue in which the other addressed
him.  "And I don’t believe I’d ever make you.  If I could only hammer
into you what sort of a hat I’m in!"

He knitted his brows; pulled himself together for a crowning effort.
Patrine spoke, not as a stranger yielding to a sudden, helpful impulse,
but quite simply, with a little, joyful catching of her breath:

"Could I explain for you, do you suppose?"

"A—thanks!  You’re awfully good!"

He turned to her eagerly, if with a certain embarrassment.

"If you would....  There is a man here I have to get word to.  And—what
French I have is simply technical.... You hardly find it in modern
dictionaries—the argot of the engine-shop and the Flying School."

"Now I understand...."  She smiled in his perplexed face, drinking in
deep breaths of the fresh fragrant air that blew about them as they
stood together behind the thick wall of bodies that hid the cockpit from
their view.  A deep dimple von Herrnung had never seen showed low down
in one of her pale cheeks.  Their whiteness was slightly tinged with
delicate pale rose.  And her eyes had lost their brilliant enamelled
hardness.  They shone like dusky stars as she went on: "Now I know why I
thought of wide green spaces and a breeze blowing to me over gorse and
heather as I looked at you.  Sub-conscious memories of Hendon and
Brooklands and Upavon.  For you’re a Flying Man!"

"Just that!"  His ruefulness was banished.  "And now you know how I come
to be in Paris with the clothes I stand up in and not another rag....
Two of us flew the Channel yesterday morning....  If the weather holds
decent, we should be on the wing again by four A.M.  And my mechanic’s
given me the slip.  To say he’s taken French leave would be appropriate
under the circumstances.  Left a line—the cool—beggar!—to say I’d find
him here."

"Too bad!" she said, as fresh furrows dug themselves into the tanned
forehead.  "Not fair to leave you in the cart like that.  No wonder you
followed—hot upon his track."

"Combed the whole place—everywhere they’ll let me in. But my aviator’s
kit’s against me.  I’ve seen some rummy get-ups.  But they draw the line
at Carberry’s overalls."

One hand rested easily on his hip, in the other hand he swung the eared
cap with goggles.  A pedestal in the moonlight would have suited him.
It occurred to her to ask:

"What was he like—your runaway mechanic?"

"I hardly ... Oh! ... Little black-avised Welshman—barely tips the scale
at eight stone.  Has to be a light-weight, because I weigh all of
eleven.  And with the hovering-gear—but that can’t interest you."

"Indeed it does.  What of the hovering-gear?"

His face darkened and hardened.  He said:

"It’s an invention of mine.  And after no end trying—our own people at
Whitehall simply wouldn’t have anything to do with me—the chiefs of the
French Service Aëronautique consented to give it a test."

"Sporting of them, wasn’t it?"

He agreed:

"No end sporting.  So I bucked the tiger over the Channel with Davis—to
find that an officer and mechanic of the S. A. were told off to try the
hoverer over the selected area.  For us to engineer the thing ourselves
wasn’t ’_l’etiquette militaire_.’  That’s the French for Government

"Bother etiquette!  I’m beginning to sympathise with Davis!"

His vexation broke up in laughter.

"That’s what _she_ did.  She sympathised with Davis and carried him off

Patrine said, a light breaking in on her:

"Why, of course, there would be a girl....  He’d hardly come to a place
like this alone, would he?"

Some query in his look made her add hastily:

"What was she like?"

"Like....  The girl who’s carried off Davis? ..."  He reflected a
moment.  "Pretty and plump and fluffy, with a pair of goo-goo eyes!
She’s daughter or niece or something"—he boggled the explanation
rather—"to the German chap who hired us the hangar at Drancy—if you can
give that name to a ramshackle shed in a waste building-lot!  And
Davis—thundering good man, but once on a spree..."  He whistled
dismally.  "If I could only get my claws on him! ..."

Here the uniformed official returned to the charge:

"Monsieur has found his friend—Monsieur has explained the situation.  To
enter the _Salon de Danse_ with Madame is not permissible—in the costume
Monsieur displays. No doubt Madame will understand!"

Patrine said, with a slight catch in her breath, as though some drops of
chilly pleasant perfume had been suddenly sprayed on her:

"He supposes ... he thinks ... that I’m ... your friend!"

"I’ll explain."  He reddened, turning to the official, saying in the
French of the British schoolboy, laborious, devoid of colloquialisms:

"_Monsieur, vous n’avez pas compris.  Madame elle—elle n’êtes qu’une
étrangère.  Pour mon ami, je ne lui vois.  Si vous permettre d’entrer,

"_Rototo!  Voyez, man blousier, j’connais bien la sorte! Sufficit!
Assez!  Ça m’ fait suer, comprends?_"  The gold-braided arm described a
magnificent sweep, the large white kid-covered hand indicated remote
distance—"_Sortez!_ ..."

The Briton, thus invited to retire, looked at Patrine.

"I can’t quite follow, but it’s plain he’s telling me to hook it.  The
rest is—pretty—strong?"

She nodded, biting her lip.

"Frightfully rude.  Not that I know much Paris slang. But a friend of
mine—"  She broke off to listen, as from under the functionary’s waxed
moustache rattled another sentence:

"_A l’instant, ou j’appelle l’ sergent d’ville!_"

"He’s talking about sending for the police now!"  She added hastily:
"Don’t let him do that!  Offer him a tip!"

The magic word must have been comprehended of the braided functionary.
He ceased to fulminate.  He waited, his avid eye upon the pair.  The
lean hatchety face of the aviator had flamed at Patrine’s suggestion.
He said:

"Don’t you think I’d have tipped him in the beginning—if I’d had the
wherewithal?  But expenses have been frightful!—the waste lot with the
shed I’ve stalled the machine in costs as much as a suite of rooms at a
decent middle-class hotel would.  Had to fork rent in advance too.
Proprietor’s a German as well as a jerry-builder, and when I’ve paid his
goo-goo girl for our coffee and rolls to-morrow morning"—the speaker
exhibited a disc of shiny metal bearing the classical capped and
oak-wreathed head of the Republic, value exactly
twopence-halfpenny—"I’ll have just one of these blessed tin things

"How rotten!"  In the gilt metal vanity-bag, Patrine’s inseparable
adjunct, lurked, in the company of a mirror, powder-puff, and note-book,
a tiny white silk purse.  In the purse nestled two plump British half
sovereigns, the moiety of Patrine’s salary for the previous week.
"Would you jump down my throat if I asked you to let me finance you?"
she pleaded, an eager hand in the depths of the receptacle.  "Why not?"

"Because I’m a decent man!"  If he had been previously crimson he was
now scarlet as a boiled lobster.  "Thanks all the same, though!  I can’t
wait here, even to catch Davis....  I must bike back to Drancy, where
I’ve left the Bird—the machine—in the German’s shed...  Not a soul to
keep an eye on her! ... My heart’s in my mouth when I think of what
might hap—"  He bit off the end of the sentence and went on: "But if
you’d be so awfully kind as to take charge of this, in case you ...
There’s a message written on it...."  He offered her a soiled, bent

"I understand.  If I should chance to come across your Davis....  A
little man ... looking like a Welshman.... But you haven’t told me
whether he’s dark or fair!"

"Black as a crow," he told her.  "Not dressed like me!"  His well-cut
mouth began to twist upwards at the corners.

"Quite a swell, in a silk-faced frock-coat, white vest and striped
accompaniments.  A silk hat, too, rather curly brimmed, but still, a
topper.  I suppose a friend of the lady’s rented Davis the kit."

"Of the lady’s? ..."  She remembered.  "Yes, yes! Of course! ... The
German’s appendage....  Why! ... Look! ... Those two people who have
just passed the turn-stile at the other end of the Promenade....  If
there’s anything in description, here comes Davis with the goo-goo

"By—gum!  You’ve nailed me the pair of them."  As the aviator’s long
strides bore him down in the direction of the little sallow,
black-avised mechanic in the capacious silk-faced frock-coat, and his
high-bosomed, florid, flaxen-haired enchantress, and before the
moustached guardian of the Promenade could renew his indignant protest,
Patrine had dropped the little sovereign-purse in his deep, rapacious
hand.  And at that instant the music ended with a crashing succession of
barbaric chords.  The São Paulo dance was done.

"_Merci millefois, Madame!_ ..."

Patrine turned from the hireling’s thanks to see the high head and
powerful square shoulders of von Herrnung forging towards her, towering
above the polyglot, variegated crowd.  He hailed her with:

"So you met a friend?  Is that why I found myself deserted?"

She answered coldly:

"I did not desert you—and I did not meet a friend."

His face, still suffused with a purplish flush, pouched and baggy about
the eyes, told of the maelstrom of unhealthy excitement the dance of the
jaguars in the jungle had set whirling in his brain.  She guessed that
he had taken advantage of their separation to descend into the
ball-room, and that as one of the spectators in the front rank he had
revelled in the final thrill.  He persisted:

"_Was_?  But what means it?  I have lost you.... I think you must have
gone down into the ball-room after your friend....  I follow and you are
not there.  I come back to find you....  Who was that dirty bounder I
saw you talking to?"

"He wasn’t a dirty bounder!"  His rudeness enraged her.  "He was a nice,
clean, first-class, top-hole, plucky English boy!"

He sneered:

"’_Boy_’ ... Men of forty are boys, in the mouths of you English ladies.
You borrow the term from women of the street-walking class."

"Then I’ll call him a man.  The best kind of man going! English—from the
top of his nice head to the very tips of his toes."

"How can you tell if he was not a friend of yours?  What do you know of
him?"  He fixed his eyes compellingly on hers.

She answered:

"Nothing but that he flew the Channel yesterday—with Davis—to test his
invention—and he has got to be on the wing for home at four."

"So!  He has told you all this, and you do not know his name, even?
Perhaps it is on that card you hold in your hand?"

She started, and the card fluttered from her twitching fingers to the

"Allow me...."  Von Herrnung stooped as though to retrieve the bit of
pasteboard.  "Curious!  It has gone! ... It is not there!" he said.

"I think you have your foot on it."  Her eyeballs ached, she felt weary,
and flat, and stale.  "Please lift up your foot and let me see if it is
there," she urged, and grown suddenly obtuse, he lifted up the wrong
foot.  She was trying to explain that he had done so when they were
rejoined by Courtley and Lady Beauvayse.

"Say, did you see she wore a head-band with a rubber mouth-hold at the
back of her neck?  And waist-fixings under her frillies so’s Herculano
could swing her around his head.  My land! that man has jaw-power to
whip Teddy Roosevelt, and she’s got vim enough for a nest of
rattlesnakes....  Used up, Pat? ... If you aren’t, you look it!"  The
speaker yawned prettily: "I’m about ready to be taken back to by-by,
though it’s only two o’clock."

Von Herrnung escorted the wearer of the green bird of paradise as they
went through dark alleys and illuminated avenues back to the archway
with the blazing crowns and stars.  Courtley accepted the offer of a
lift back to the hotel.  The German declined, saying that he preferred
to walk, as the car was closed.

"Pardon! ..."  His voice had arrested Morris on the point of starting
the Rolls-Royce.  His handsome face had appeared in the frame of the
car-window.  "Excuses! but this belongs to Miss Saxham!"  His cuff shone
white in the semi-darkness, the great magpie pearl on his little finger
gleamed maliciously as he dropped the missing card upon Patrine’s lap,
and drew back, uncovered and smiling, as the car moved away.  Later on,
when she was safe in her room, she looked at the card, and read upon it
in plain black lettering:

    |                                               |
    |  ALAN SHERBRAND,                              |
    |                                               |
    |  FANSHAW'S SCHOOL OF FLYING.                  |
    |                                               |
    |  THE AËRODROME,                               |
    |  COLLINGWOOD AVENUE,                          |
    |  HENDON, N. W.                                |
    |                                               |

Something was scrawled in violet pencil on the upper blank space.  Being
a girl with notions about squareness, Patrine would not at first read,
remembering that it was his private message to Davis, whom Chance had
brought within his master’s reach.  But later still, or earlier, when,
after a brief interval of silence, the traffic of Paris began to roll
over the asphalt, principle yielded to impulse.  She switched on the
electric light above her pillow and read:

"_This Sarajevo business spells War.  Must get back at once to Hendon.
I trust to your Honour not to fail me.  You know what this means to_

"_A. S._"

So the young Mercury in gabardine and overalls was a professional, a
teacher; a pilot who helped men to qualify for the certificate given by
the Royal Aëro Club without breaking too many bones.  She had seen the
big painted sign in the Collingwood Avenue, Hendon, that advertised
Fanshaw’s Flying School.

"_I trust to your Honour_," he had written to his mechanic. The word
would have seemed big, and awful, and imposing, spelt like that, with a
capital "H," if the writer had been a gentleman.

Disillusioned, she tore the card into little pieces and sank into a
heavy sleep before the broad yellow sunshine of Monday outlined the pink
velvet brocade curtains unhygienically drawn before the open windows.
And she dreamed, not of the magic wind that had blown upon her that
night, nor of the Mercury-like figure in the suit of Carberrys, but of
the supple bodies that had bounded and whirled, and of the gleaming
panther-fangs that had clashed in mid-air.  Then the dominant figure
became that of von Herrnung.  Again the red mouth under the tight-rolled
red moustache alternately flattered, insulted, and cajoled. Again she
felt that violation of her virgin flesh, its moist, hot touch upon her
naked shoulder.  Its kiss bit and stung.

She awakened late from those poisoned dreams to a riotous blaze of
colour and a breath of musky fragrance.  On the coffee-stand beside her
bed lay a great sheaf of long-stalked roses; deep orange-hearted, with
outer petals of ruddy flame.  She plunged her face deep into the
flowers. The corner of a large square envelope thrust from amongst them.
She caught it between her teeth and pulled it out.

It was from von Herrnung, written on paper bearing the device of the
Société Aëronautique Internationale in the Faubourg St. Honoré.  It was
brief enough.

"_That I offended yesterday, Isis will pardon.  The address I promised
is—’Atelier Wiber, 000, Rue de la Paix.’  The good Wiber demands no fee
for making Beauty yet more beautiful.  All has been arranged._

       "_T. v. H._"

                             *CHAPTER XVII*

                       *INTRODUCES AN OLD FRIEND*

Saxham, M.D., F.R.C.S., M.V.O., Consulting Surgeon to St. Stephen’s and
the Hospital of St. Stanislaus and St. Teresa, sat busily writing at the
big leather-topped table in the consulting-room, that, with the
well-stocked library adjoining, occupied the rearward ground-floor of
the Harley Street corner house.

The hands of the table-clock pointed to eleven A.M.  Since nine the
doctor had sat at the receipt of patients, the crowd in the waiting-room
had melted down to half a dozen souls. Fourteen years had gone by since
Saxham, late Temporary Captain, R.A.M.C., attached Headquarters Staff,
H.I.M. Forces, Gueldersdorp, had taken over the lease and bought his
practice from the fashionable physician who had been ruined by the war
slump in South African mining-stocks.

The broken speculator’s successor had struck pay-reef from the outset.
Society had taken Saxham up and could not afford to drop him again.  He
was harsh and unconciliatory in manner—a perfect bear, according to
Society—but quite too frightfully clever; and as yet no speedier rival
had outrun him in the race.

Now as the July sunshine, its fierceness tempered by the short curtains
of pale yellow silk that screened the wide-open windows, came streaming
in over the fragrant heads of a row of pot-grown rose-trees, ranged on
the white-enamelled window-seat, it shone upon a man to whom both Time
and Fortune had been kind.  The admirable structure of bone, clothed
with tough muscle and firm white flesh, had not suffered the degrading
changes inseparable from obesity. Nor had the man waxed lean and grisly
in proportion as his banking account grew fat.  His scholar’s stoop
bowed the great shoulders even more, disguising the excessive
development of the throat and deltoid muscles.  The square, pale face,
with the short aquiline nose and jutting under-lip, was close-shaven as
of old.  The thickly growing black hair was streaked with silver-grey
and tufted with white upon the temples.  His loosely fitting clothes of
fine silky black cloth were not the newest cut, neither were they
old-fashioned. They were suited perfectly to the man.

While Saxham minutely copied his prescription, the patient who sat
facing the window in the chair on the doctor’s left hand had not ceased
from the enumeration of a lengthy catalogue of symptoms, peculiar to the
middle-aged, self-indulgent, and tightly-laced.  At the close of a
thrilling description of after-dinner palpitations, she became aware
that her hearer’s attention had strayed.  Following up his glance she
ran him to earth in one of three tinted photographs that stood in a
triptych frame upon his writing-table, and glowed with an indignation
that tinged with violet a plump face coated with the latest

"How very charming your wife is—still!"

The speaker, her recent character of patient now merged in that of
visitor, plucked down her veil of violet gauze with a gesture that
betrayed her wrath.  But her voice was carefully honeyed to match her
smile—as she continued:

"You have been married quite an age, haven’t you?"

The anniversary of her own second honeymoon was due next week.  She went
on answering her own query:

"Nearly fourteen years, I think?"

Saxham answered, not glancing at the silver table-almanac but at the
threefold photograph frame:

"To be precise, just fourteen years and six weeks.  We were married on
the 6th of June, 1900."

"You have a good memory—for some things!"

The undisguised resentment in her tone pulled Saxham’s head round.  He
surveyed her with genuine surprise.  She bit her lips and tossed her
head, waggling her tall feather, jingling her strings of turquoise and
amber, coral and onyx, kunzite and olivine, big blocks of which
semi-precious stones were being worn just then, strung on the thinnest
of gold chains.  Each movement evoked a whiff of perfume from the scanty
folds of her bizarre attire.  Her frankly double chin quivered, and her
redundant bosom, already liberally displayed through its transparent
covering of embroidered chiffon, threatened to burst its confining bands
of baby-ribbon, as the Doctor said:

"Is it not natural that I should have a particularly clear recollection
of the greatest day of all my life—save one?"

"You’re quite too killing, Owen!"

She laughed tunelessly, clanking her precious pebbles.

"Of course, we all know you’re fearfully swanky about your wife’s
beauty.  I saw her yesterday at Lord’s—sitting under the awning on the
sunny side, with the Duchess of Broads and Lady Castleclare.  Your boy
was with them, jumping out of his skin over Naumann’s bowling for
Oxford. Really marvellous!  Your poor dear Cambridge hadn’t a chance!
Tremendously like you he grows—I mean Bawne. Really, your very image!"

"I should prefer," said Saxham, stiffly, "that my son resembled his

"Ha, ha, ha!  How quite too romantic!"  She threw back her head, its
henna-dyed hair plastered closely about it and fastened with buckles of
jade, set with knobs of turquoise.  A kind of stove-pipe of enamel green
velvet crowning her, was trimmed with a band of miniature silk roses in
addition to the towering violet plume.  The plume, carefully dishevelled
so as to convey the impression of a recent wetting, threatened the
electric globe-lamp springing from a standard near.  Her crossed legs
liberally revealed her stockings of white silk openwork, patterned with
extra-sized dragon-flies in black chenille, and her laugh rattled about
Saxham’s vexed ears like Harlequin’s painted bladder, full of little
pebbles or dried peas.  "In love with your wife—and after fourteen years
and six weeks!"  Her fleshy shoulders shook, and her opulent bosom
heaved stormily.  She passed a little filmy perfumed handkerchief under
her violet gauze veil and delicately dabbed the corners of her eyes.
"You remind me of my poor David.  I was always the _one woman on earth_,
in his opinion.  To the last, he was jealous of the slightest reference
to you!"

"To _me_?  Why should he have been?"

Mildred—for this was Saxham’s faithless bride-elect of more than twenty
years previously—swallowed her wrath with an effort, and went on with
the mulish obstinacy of her type:

"Perhaps it was absurd.  But men in love are unreasonable creatures, and
David was perfectly mad where I was concerned.  He worshipped me to the
point of idolatry! He never could _quite_ believe that I did not regret
my—my choice—that my heart did not sometimes escape from his keeping in
dreams, and become yours again, Owen!  He never _really_ cared for
Patrine, because she has a look of you....  Absurd, considering that she
was born two years after you disappeared into South Africa....  Though
of course I could not truthfully say that I did not—think of you a great

It seemed to the silent man who heard, that Mildred offended against
decency.  His soul loathed her.  She went on:

"Her brother—my darling boy who died—was the very image of David!"  Her
tone was even womanly and tender in speaking of the dead boy.  "But
Patrine—a year younger—Patrine is really wonderfully like you, with her
commanding figure and almost Egyptian profile, those long eyes under
straight eyebrows—and all those masses of dead-black hair!"  As Saxham
writhed under the category she gave out her irritating laugh again.
"Ah!—I forgot! When Patrine was in Paris with Lady Beauvayse for the Big
Week—Lady Beau took her to the Atelier Wiber—the famous hairdresser’s
establishment at 000, Rue de la Paix—where they specialise in
_Chevelures des Teintes Moderne_—all the newest effects displayed by
stylish mannequins—and really the change is astonishing—her sister Irma
and I hardly knew Patrine when she came to see us at Kensington—looking
superb, with hair—one might almost call it terra-cotta coloured—showing
up her creamy-white skin."

"Do you tell me that Patrine has bleached her splendid hair and stained
it with one of those vile dyes that are based on aniline—or Egyptian
henna at the best?"

Mildred retorted acidly:

"It was a very expensive process....  Five hundred francs—but I
understand that Lady Beauvayse was so good as to insist on paying
Wiber’s charges herself."

Saxham answered brusquely:

"I would have given ten times the money to know my niece’s hair
unspoiled.  Whoever paid, the process will prove an expensive one to
Patrine when she finds herself excruciated by headaches, or when the
colour changes—as it will by-and-by!"

Mildred shrugged:

"She can have it re-dipped, surely?  Or let it return to its original

"There are many chemical arguments against human hair so altered
returning to its original colour," came from Saxham grimly.  "As these
women who have made coiffures of orange, pink, crimson, blue and green,
fashionable, had previously found to their cost.  Do you not realise
that from mishaps of this kind resulted the chromatically tinted heads
one sees at public functions?  Bizarre and strange in the electric
lights, hideous in the sun."

"Ha, ha, ha!"  Mildred’s laugh rattled about the Doctor’s ears like a
shower of walnuts.  "I shall certainly bring Patrine to call upon you,
if her hair happens to turn peacock-green or pinky-crimson.  I would not
miss seeing your face for all the world!  But seriously, my dear Owen,
when a girl is as handsome as my girl and has no _dot_ to back her, she
must make herself attractive and desirable to eligible men."

"By trying to make herself look like a Parisian _cocotte_, she renders
herself neither attractive nor desirable—to the kind of man whom I
should like to see married to my niece. The cleanly kind of man, with
wholesome tastes, a sound constitution, and an upright character."

"My dear Owen, you might be composing an advertisement for a butler or a

Mildred ostentatiously controlled a yawn as the Doctor continued:

"As to a provision for Patrine on her marriage, you know that I shall
gladly give it.  Of course, upon condition——"

"Yes, yes, I know what your condition would be!"  Mildred’s finger-tips,
adorned with nails elaborately veneered and dyed, drummed a maddening
little tattoo on the table-ledge.  "That she marries the ’right kind of
man, with wholesome tastes,’ and all the rest of it.  The question
is—would Patrine be able to endure him?  She is—let us say—more than a
little difficult to get on with—and essentially an independent,
up-to-date girl."

"If Patrine would have subdued her ideas about independence and given up
this idea of taking a place as salaried companion, I would have welcomed
her, and so would my wife!"

"Patrine is—as you are very well aware—something very different to a
mere companion.  She is reader and secretary to Lady Beauvayse.  Her
Club subscription is paid, she moves there amongst gentlewomen, and is
treated at Berkeley Square exactly like a favoured guest.  You should
see the presents Lady Beauvayse absolutely showers upon her—and she gets
all her expenses and a hundred a year."

Saxham was silent.  Patrine might have had all this and much more, if
she would have accepted the home he offered. Not only because she was
his niece, but the girl was dear to him.  His wife loved her, and in her
strange, wild way Patrine returned some measure of Lynette’s tenderness.

"She is worth loving," Lynette had told her husband. "She has a
generous, brave, independent nature and a deep heart.  She is not easily
won because she is so well worth winning.  Ah! if the Mother were only
with us, how well she would understand and help Patrine!"

But Mildred had risen to depart.  Saxham rose too, not without alacrity,
and taking her offered hand, pressed it and let it fall to her side.

"Well, good-bye.  My kind regards to Captain Dyneham."  He referred to
the second legal possessor of Mildred’s once coveted charms.  "When can
I dine with you at Kensington, do you ask?  I fear I have very few
opportunities for sociality.  Some day! ... Tell Patrine to come and see
me.  Half-past one o’clock to-morrow. Lunch after my scolding—and a chat
with Lynette."

"You are extremely kind to Patrine."  Mildred’s tone was sweetly
venomous.  "But I fear just at present she has little time to spare.
Men in love are so exacting.  Dear me, what a feather-brained creature I
am! ... Haven’t I told you about Count von Herrnung?"

"You have told me nothing," said Saxham, "and you know it.  Who and what
is the man?"

Mildred said with a great air of dignity:

"He is a distinguished officer of the Prussian Flying Service, the son
and heir of a high official in the German Foreign Office.  He holds the
rank of Count by courtesy. I assure you I never met a more agreeable
young man."

"Even were he all that you say, and more, and even while I regard the
German Army as a marvel of organisation and efficiency—I should not,
knowing the type of man that is the product of their military system,
desire my niece to marry a German officer."

Mildred mocked:

"’Marry’—who said anything about marriage? ... When they have not known
each other for a month.  Not"—her tone became sentimental—"that I am a
disbeliever in love at first sight.  No one could doubt that Patrine is
attracted, and he—the Count"—she dropped her eyelids—"is simply too
fearfully gone for words.  Absolutely dead-nuts!"

"’Gone.’ ... ’Dead-nuts.’ ..."

"I give you my word.  Entangled hopelessly.  ’What a captive to lead in
chains,’ I said to Patrine—he is quite six feet in height or over, and
has the most perfect features; simply magnificent eyes, the most
fascinating manner, and the build of a Greek athlete.  He is staying at
the ’Tarlton,’ and I must say Lady Beauvayse is extremely sympathetic.
For since they came back from Paris together the Count has been taking
Patrine about everywhere.  She can hardly have had a glimpse of my gay
girl....  Dinners, theatres, the opera, and heaven knows what else, they
have crowded into the week!"  The smiling speaker shrugged her ample
shoulders.  "To say nothing of cabaret suppers and dances. He even
promises to take her to the famous ’Upas Club.’  Wonderful, by all
accounts.  They say the French Regency came nowhere near it.  Dancing in
the Hall of the Hundred Pillars, a simply wonderful three A.M. supper,
and champagne of the most expensive brands, served up in gold-mounted
crystal jugs."

"Can it be possible? ..." broke from Saxham.  "Are you mad, that you
countenance this German in taking Patrine to such an infamous place?"

"’Infamous!’  Really, Owen, your notions are too old-fashioned for
anything."  Her laughter broke out, and her chains and bangles jingled
an accompaniment.  "Do," she urged, "come out of your shell.  Dine with
us on Thursday. We have a box for the ’Ministers’ Theatre.  We’ll go on,
you and I, George and Irma, from there to the cabaret supper at the
’Rocroy.’  We can’t afford the ’Upas,’ the subscription is too fearfully
prohibitive.  But the entertainment at the ’Rocroy’ is really _chic_—the
dancing is as good—everyone says—as they have it at Maxim’s.  Do come!
Of course, you can trust us not to blab to your wife! Mercy! how severe
you look!"  Her tone changed, became wheedling, her made-up eyes
languished tenderly.  "Odd! how we poor, silly women prefer the men who
bully us. Come!  One chance more.  Dine Thursday and see ’Squiffed’ at
the ’Ministers’—try a whiff of Paris at the ’Rocroy’ after midnight,
’twill buck you up like nothing else—take my word!  Won’t you?"

"I will not!"

"Why not?"

"I have told you why not.  Because these places are centres of
corruption, schools for the inculcation and practice of vice in every
form.  Men and women, young or old, those who take part in or witness
one of these loathsome dances, hot and reeking from the brothels and
voodoo-houses of Cuba and the Argentine are equally degraded.  I had
rather see my niece Patrine dead and in her coffin than know her capable
of appreciating such abominable exhibitions, pernicious in their
effects, as I, and others of my profession have grave reason to
know!—ruinous in their results to body, mind, and soul!"


Her plump, middle-aged face was leaden grey beneath her violet veil as
she screamed at him:

"You have insulted me!  Horribly—abominably! ... How dare you tell me
that I frequent infamous places, and encourage my daughter to visit
schools of vice!  And it is not for Irma you are so rottenly scrupulous,
but for Patrine, your wife’s favourite!  Who will do as she pleases, and
marry whom she prefers without ’by your leave’ or with mine!  She is a
mule for self-will and obstinacy—another point of resemblance to
yourself! ..."

He had recovered his stern self-possession.  His face was granite as he

"I have not insulted you, but if you will set no example to your
daughters in avoiding these evils, it is my duty to expostulate."

She reared like an angry cobra, then spat her jet of scalding venom.

"I take leave to think my present example quite harmless to Irma and
Patrine.  Now yours—of a few years ago—was certainly calculated to
damage the bodily and worldly prospects of your son."  She added, as
Saxham silently put out his hand to touch the bell: "No! please don’t
ring.  I know my way out.  Good-morning....  Pray remember me to Bawne
and your wife!"

                            *CHAPTER XVIII*

                             *SAXHAM PAYS*

Thus, having shot her bolt, Mildred departed.  The Dop Doctor standing
in the open doorway, watched the gaily-accoutred, middle-aged figure in
the peg-top skirt and bouffante tunic of green taffeta patterned with a
violet grape-vine, moving down the white-panelled corridor.

Saxham watched her out of sight before he shut the door and went back to
his chair.  There he sat thinking.... No one would disturb the Doctor
until he touched his electric bell.

Ah! if the truth were told, not all of us find solace in the thought
that in the niches of Heaven are safely stored our ancient idols.  To
Owen Saxham it was gall and verjuice to remember that for love of this
woman, weak, vain, silly, spiteful, he, the man of intellect and
knowledge, had gone down, quick, to the very verge of Hell.

Mildred was just eighteen when he had wooed and won her.  She had been
slight and willowy and pale, with round, surprised brown eyes, an
indeterminate nose, and a little mouth of the rosebud kind.  Her neck
had been long and swanlike, her waist long and slim, her hands and feet
long and narrow.  He had desired her with all the indiscriminating
passion of early manhood.  He had planned to pass his life by her side.
He had hoped that she might bear him children—he had wrought in a frenzy
of intellectual and physical endeavour to take rank in his chosen
profession, that Success might make life sweeter for Mildred—his wife.

She had seemed to love him, and he had been happy in that seeming.  Then
the shadow of a tragic error had fallen blackly across his path.  From
the omission to copy in his memorandum-book a prescription made up by
himself in a sudden emergency had sprung the branding suspicion that
culminated in the Old Bailey Criminal Case of the Crown _v._ Saxham.
His acquittal restored to him freedom of movement. He left the Court
without a stain on his professional reputation, but socially and
financially a ruined man.

Friends and patients fell away from Saxham—acquaintances dropped him.
Mildred—his Mildred—was one of the rats that scurried from the sinking
ship.  She had thrown him over and married David, his brother.  Her
betrayal had been the wreath of nightshade crowning Saxham’s cup of woe.
Those vertical lines graven on his broad white forehead, those others
that descended from the outer angles of the deep-cut nostrils to the
corners of that stern mouth of his, and yet those others at the angles
of the lower jaw, were chiefly Mildred’s handiwork.  They told of past
excess, a desperate effort to drown Memory and hasten longed-for death
on the part of a man who had quarrelled with his God.

The demons of pride and self-will, defiance and scorn had been cast out.
An ordeal such as few men are called upon to endure had purified,
cleansed, and regenerated the drunkard.  Friendship had taken the
desperate man by the hand, plucked his feet from the morass, led him
into the light and set his feet once more on firm ground.  His
profession was his again to follow.  Love, real love, had come to him
and folded her rose-white wings beside his hearth.

Years of pure domestic happiness, of successful work, had passed, and
now—the July sunshine had no warmth in it, though it streamed in through
the open window over the tops of the pot-roses.  The Dop Doctor’s head
was bowed upon his hands, his great shoulders shook as though he strove
with a mortal rigour, the wood of the table where his elbows leaned, the
boards beneath the thick carpet on which his feet rested, creaked as the
long shudders convulsed him at intervals.

It had seemed to Saxham—in whom the seed of Faith had germinated and put
forth leaves in one great night of storm following upon years of arid
dryness—that Almighty God must have forgiven those five worse than
wasted years.

Fool! he now cried in his heart.  The Divine Mercy is boundless as the
ocean of air in which our planet swims, and for the cleansing of our
spotted souls the Blood of the Redeemer flowed on Calvary.  But He who
said in His wrath that the sins of the fathers should be visited on the
children, does not break, even for those repentant prodigals whom He has
taken to His Heart again—the immutable laws of Nature.  Nature, of all
forces most conservative, wastes nothing, loses nothing, pardons
nothing, avenges everything.

The shouted curse, like the whispered blessing, is carried on the
invisible wings of Air forever.  Thus, the deformed limb, the devouring
cancer, the loathsome ulcer, and the degrading vice, are perpetuated and
reproduced as diligently and faithfully as the beautiful feature, the
noble quality, the wit that charms, the genius that dominates.  Nay,
since Nature turns out some millions of fools to one Dante or
Shakespeare or Molière or Cervantes, it would appear that she prefers
the fools.

So it is.  Divine Grace has reached and saved the sinner. The ugly vice,
the base appetite, have been eradicated by prayer and mortification, by
years of self-control and watchfulness.  Free will, moral and physical
force, self-command and self-respect are yours again.  And with sobs of
gratitude the erstwhile slave of Hell gives thanks to Heaven.

Saved.  Cured.  Great words and true in Saxham’s case as in many others.
But though they are saved and cured they cannot ever forget.  Their eyes
have a characteristic look of alert, suspicious watchfulness.  For
wheresoever they move about the world, in the drawing-rooms of what is
called Society, in the business circles of the City, in the barracks or
the mining-camp, on the ship’s heaving deck or the floor of the Pullman
carriage; amidst the sands of the Desert or the golden-rod of the
prairie, or the red sand and dry karroo scrub of the lone veld, they
will hear, when they least expect it, the thin, shrill hiss of the Asp
that once bit them to the bone.  Or supposing that they have forgotten
in reality—so cleverly has the world pretended to!—with what a pang of
mortal anguish Memory awakens.  When you recognise the devil that once
entered and possessed you, looking out of the eyes of your child.

When Saxham lifted up his ashen face and looked at the portrait in the
third leaf of the triptych frame and met the clear, candid gaze of his
son’s blue eyes, you know what he was seeking, and praying not to find.

To have given Lynette a drunkard for her son would be the most terrible
penalty that could be exacted by merciless Nature for those five sodden,
wasted years.

Ah! to have had a clean, unspotted life to share with Bawne’s fair
mother.  That his priceless pearl of womanhood should gleam upon a
drunkard’s hand—his spotless Convent lily have opened to fullest bloom
in a drunkard’s holding, had been from the outset of their married life,
verjuice in Saxham’s cup by day, and a thorn in his pillow by night.

But never before had it occurred to the man of science, the great
surgeon, the learned biologist, that relentless Nature might be saving
up for him, Saxham, a special rod in saltest brine.

Bawne....  He sat in silence with set teeth, asking himself the bitter

"How could I have forgotten—Bawne?"

                             *CHAPTER XIX*


As so often happens, the thought of the beloved heralded his well-known
thump upon the door-panel.  When had the Dop Doctor ever cried, "Come
in!" with such a leaden sinking of the heart?

The boy who came in was alert, upright, slim, and strong for his twelve
years.  You saw him attired in the dress with which we are all
familiar—the loose shirt of khaki-brown, with its knotted silk
neckerchief of dark blue, the lanyards ending in clasp-knife and
whistle, the roomy shorts upheld by a brown leather pouch-belt
supporting a serviceable axe, the dark blue stockings turned over at the
knee, fitting close to the slim muscular legs, the light strong shoes,
the brown smasher hat with the chin-strap, completed the picture of a
Scout of whom no patrol need be ashamed.  He carried his light staff at
the trail, and entering, brought it to an upright position, and saluted
smartly.  The salute formally acknowledged, he came straight to the
table and stood at his father’s elbow, waiting, as Saxham feigned to
blot a written line.  Outwardly composed, the drumming of the man’s
heart deafened him, and a mist before his eyes blurred the page they
were bent upon.  Fatherhood gripped him by the throat as in the first
moment of his son’s separate existence.  A thing we prize is never so
poignantly precious as when we contemplate the possibility of its ruin
or loss.

"Father, you aren’t generally pleased when I come bothering you in
consulting hours, but this time it is really serious business, no kid,
and Honour bright!"

Saxham answered with equal gravity:

"If you have a reasonable excuse for coming, I have said that you may

The boy was like him.  You saw it as he stood waiting. The vivid
gentian-blue eyes were Saxham’s, as were the thick throat and prominent
under-jaw and the square facial outline.  But the plume of hair that
swept over the broad forehead was red-brown like Lynette’s.  The
delicate, irregular profile and a sensitive sweetness about the lips
were gifts from his mother.  The directness of his look, and the tinge
of brusqueness in his speech were unconsciously modelled on the
father’s, as he said, sacrificing sufficient of manly independence to
come within the curve of the Doctor’s strong arm:

"First, I wanted to show you my new badge."

Saxham’s left hand squeezed the arm most distant from him, where a
familiar device was displayed upon the sleeve, midway, between the
shoulder and elbow, below the six-inch length of colours distinctive of
this Scout’s Patrol.

"Turn round and show it, then!"

"Father, you’re larking.  That’s my General Scout Badge.  I’ve had it
ever since I passed my Second Class tests.  Before then, you know, when
I was a Tenderfoot, I’d only the top-part—the _fleur-de-lis_ without the
motto, and you wear that in your left pocket button-hole.  But this is
something special, don’t you see?"

Saxham eyed the row of little enamelled circles on the sleeve next him
with respectful gravity.  The boy went on, trying to control the gleeful
tremor in his voice:

"I’ve got the Ambulance Badge!—look at the Geneva Cross!—and the
Signaller’s Badge—this is it—with the crossed flags—and the
Interpreter’s Badge—the one with the two hands holding.  But this is the
very latest.  Our Scoutmaster gave it to me after parade to-day.  It’s
the Airman’s Badge—"  He caught his breath, the secret was coming in a
moment....  He went on: "To get it you must have made a model aëroplane.
Not a flying-stick, any kid of nine can make one—but a model that will
really fly.  That’s my special reason for coming.  Mother was
out—and—and next to her I wanted to tell you!"

"And next after me?"

The boy considered a moment before he looked up to answer:

"Cousin Pat, because she can keep a secret so tightly."

Saxham patted the sturdy square shoulders.

"You are fond of Cousin Patrine, aren’t you?"


"Just tell me why?"

"Because"—the young brows were puckered—"because she’s so big and
so—beautiful.  And she’d just die for you and Mother....  She comes in
my prayers next after you two."

"And—the Chief Scout?"

"Father, wouldn’t it be—a bit cheeky to go and pray for a man like

A spark of laughter wakened in Saxham’s sombre eyes.

"Not quite respectful, you think?  Is that it?  Why so, when you’re
taught to pray for the Holy Father, Mother Church, and the King and

The boy’s puckered brows smoothed.  The question was settled.

"Of course.  I forgot.  Then the Chief Scout must come in after Cousin
Patrine.  Because a gentleman must always give place to a lady.  That’s
what Mother says."

"Suppose Cousin Patrine never came to see you any more, what would you
do then?"

Bawne straightened the sturdy body and proclaimed:

"I would go and find her and bring her back!"

"Suppose she did not want to come?"

Bawne said instantly:

"I would tell her Mother was wanting her.  For Mother would be, you
know.  And Cousin Pat wouldn’t keep her waiting.  Not much, sir, she

"She cares so?"

"Doesn’t she!  Why, have you forgotten when I was a little shaver and
Mother was so ill?"

Saxham, with a certain tightening of the muscles of the throat, recalled
the wan, red-eyed spectre that had haunted the landing outside the
guarded bedroom where Lynette lay, white and strengthless, while her
husband fought for her with Death.

"Well, well.  Go on loving Patrine and praying for her! Now tell me of
your model."

The boy said, controlling his exultation:

"It has to be left at our District Headquarters until to-morrow.  You
see—it’s rather a special affair.  It’s not a flying stick, like the
things I used to make when I was a shaver, nor a glider—you see men in
spectacles flying those every day to please the kids on Hampstead Heath
and in Kensington Gardens, but a model of a Bristol monoplane with a
span of thirty inches, and a main-plane-area of a hundred and fifty"—he
caught his breath and with difficulty kept his eager words from tumbling
over one another as he reached the thrilling climax—"and I built up her
fuselage with cardboard and sticking-plaster out of the First Aid case
you gave me to carry in my belt-pouch, and cut the propeller out of a
tin toy engine I’ve had ever since I was a kid—and made the planes of
big sheets of stiff foolscap strengthened with thin strips of glued
wood, and her spars, sir!—the upright ones are quills, and her stays and
struts I made of copper wire and she’s weighted with lead ribbon like
what you wrap about the gut when you’re bottom-fishing for tench or
barbel—and her motor-power is eighteen inches of square elastic
twisted—and father"—he broke into a war-dance of ecstasy
unrestrained—"when Roddy Wrynche and me went on a secret expedition to
Primrose Hill to test her—she flew, sir!  First go-off—by George!"

"Really flew? ... You are certain?"

"Upon my life, sir, and that’s my Honour.  Scout’s Honour and life are
the same thing.  That’s what the Oath rubs into us."  He squared his
shoulders and lowered his voice as a boy speaking of high matters that
must be dealt with reverently.  "I think it’s—ripping.  I can say it.
Would you like me to?"

Saxham nodded without speaking, because of that choking something
sticking in his throat.  That something Lear called "the mother."  And,
dammed away behind his eyes, were scalding tears that only men may shed.
As the young voice said:

"On my Honour I promise that I will do my best to be loyal to God and
the King.

"On my Honour I promise that I will do my best to Help other people at
all times.

"On my Honour I promise that I will do my best to obey the Scout Law....
You see"—the boyish arm was on Saxham’s shoulder now, the ruddy-fair
cheek pressed against the pale, close-shaven face—"you see, Father, when
a Scout says ’On my Honour’ it’s just as if he swore on the Crucifix!"

Saxham said, crushing down the fierce emotion that had almost mastered

"It is—just the same!  For the man who breaks a promise will never keep
an oath....  I have a friend of whom I have told you....  I think he
would like to hear about your model aëroplane....  May I tell him, or
would you prefer to tell him yourself?"

Bawne’s fair face glowed.  He gasped in ecstasy:

"_Father_....  You mean Mr. Sherbrand—your Flying Man who’s in the

"My Flying Man—but he is well again and back at work at Hendon.  There
was not much the matter with him; a slight obstruction in one of the
nasal passages that prevented him from breathing with his mouth shut as
he should.  Now he has asked me—this afternoon if I am at leisure—to
bring my little son to the aërodrome and see him make a flight."

"And go up in his aëroplane with him?  Father, say Yes! Do, please do!"

As the little figure bobbed up and down beside him in joyous excitement,
Saxham answered, not without an inward tug:

"If your mother says ’Yes’ I shall not say No!  Now off with you, my

The boy saluted and went.  Even his bright obedience wrung his father’s
heart.  The man looked haggard and old. He hid his careworn face in his
hands for a minute.  His lips were still moving when he looked up and
made the Sign so well known to many of us upon his forehead and breast.
Prayer, that most powerful of all therapeutic agents, so often
prescribed by Saxham for his patients, was his own tonic and sedative in
moments of bodily exhaustion and mental overstrain.

He had prayed, he, the sceptic, on that unforgettable night at
Gueldersdorp, when he wrestled with his possessing fiend....  Lynette
had taught him the habit of prayer. And even as she, a friendless,
neglected waif, had learned to look up and see the shining Faces of our
Divine Redeemer and His Virgin Mother through the features of a pure and
tender woman; so her husband, looking in the eyes of Lynette, had found
the gift of Faith lost years before.

"Oh! ... Prayer!" you say—"Faith!" ... and I see you shrug and sneer a
little, you who are intellectual and highly educated, and have ceased to
believe in what you term the Hebraic myth or the Christian legend—since
you learned to point out the weak places in the First Book of Genesis,
and sneer at the discrepancies between the statements of the Gospel
narrators—though you will hear such testimonies sworn to in good faith,
wherever witnesses are examined in a Court of Law.

But no! you tell me, you are not an Agnostic.  You credit the existence
of Almighty God, but prayer is the parson’s affair.  Well, because a man
wears a straight black coat, will you abandon to him so inestimable a
privilege?  Is it not a marvellous thing that you or I should lift up
our earth-made, earth-begrimed hands, and that He who set this tiny
planet to spin out its æons of cycles amidst the innumerable millions of
systems wheeling through His Universe should stoop to hear the words we
utter?  Feeble cries, drowned by the orchestras of the winds, and the
chorus of the Spheres revolving in their orbits, or silent utterances
imperceptible to any Ear save His alone.

                              *CHAPTER XX*

                        *THE MODERN HIPPOCRATES*

Patients rapidly succeeded one another in the chair that faced the
window.  There were confirmed invalids who were really healthy men and
women, and certain others who came in smilingly to talk about the
weather and the newest Russian Opera, who bore upon their faces the
unmistakable stamp of mortal disease.  The wife or the husband, the
father or the mother had worried for nothing....  Would the Doctor
prescribe a little tonic to buck them, or the surgeon alleviate a little
trouble of the local kind?  Really nothing—but—Death’s knock at the
door.  And there were cases—open or unacknowledged—of the liquor-habit
and the drug-mania.  To these, instead of dropping out bromide of
potassium and throwing in the chloral hydrates with strychnine and the
chloride of the metal that is crushed and assayed out of the quartz reef
near Johannesburg, or pick-axed out of the frozen ground of the
Klondyke, Saxham dealt out that savage tonic Truth, in ladlesful.

The secret dipsomaniac or druggard could not deceive this man’s keen
scrutiny, or escape his unerring diagnosis. When, beaten, they admitted
the fact, Saxham said to them as to the others:

"You say you cannot conquer the craving.  I myself once thought so.
Your moral power can be restored, even as was mine.  In your case the
habit is barely as ingrained as in the case I quote to you.  I drank
alcohol to excess for a period of five years."

Some of the sufferers—elderly women and mild-mannered old gentlemen—were
horrified.  Others thought such candour brutal—but attractively so.  Yet
others responded to the sympathy masked by the stern, impassive face,
and the blunt, brusque manner.

"At any rate the man’s no humbug!" such and such an one would stutter.
"And seems to have any amount of Will.  Think I shall put myself in his
hands for a bit."  Adding with a rueful twinkle: "He knows how the dog
bites, if anyone does!"

He did, and those hands of his were strong, prompt and unfaltering.
Since the grip of human sympathy had fastened on the Dop Doctor of
Gueldersdorp, and drawn him up out of the depths into sunlight and free
air, and set his feet once more on the firm ground, how many of his
fellow-sufferers had Saxham not hauled reeking and squelching out of the
abysmal sludge, whose secrets shall only be revealed upon the Last Day.

Yet Saxham realised that the grand majority of these twentieth-century
men and women really wanted little more of the physician and surgeon
than the thirteenth-century patient desired of the apothecary or the
leech.  A patient hearing given to their category of evils—a little
hocus-pocus, and a nostrum or so.

We scoff, thought Saxham, at the ignorance of those men of the Dark
Ages, yet in this enlightened era the eye of newt and toe of frog, the
salted earthworms, and the _Pulvis Bezoardicus Magistralis_ or _Pulvis
Sanctus_, dissolved in the liquor of herbs gathered under a propitious
conjunction of their ruling planets with the Moon—have but given place
to extract of the dried thyroid gland of the sheep, the ovaries of the
guinea-pig, the spinal cord and brain of rabbits and mice and other
small mammalia, with—instead of broth of vipers, liquor distilled from
the parotid secretion of the tropical toad; identical with the reptile
administered in boluses to Pagan patients by the Greek Hippocrates.
With other remedies hideously akin to the hell-brews that whipped the
sated desires of Tiberius and Nero.... Such as the pastelloids
frequently prescribed by bland-mannered, frock-coated, twentieth-century
physicians—professing Christians who pay West-End pew-rents, and deplore
the abnormal drop in the birth-rate—for the spurring of the sense of
debilitated Hedonists.

Thus, summed Saxham, we have rediscovered Organotherapy. We have
harnessed the bacillus to Hygeia’s silver chariot.  In Surgery the Short
Circuit is the latest word. It is wonderful to know how well one can get
on, at a pinch, without organs hitherto deemed indispensable to
existence. Radiology reveals to us the inner mysteries of the human
machine, alive and palpitating.  The splintered bone, the bullet or the
shell-splinter embedded in the muscle or the osseous structure, can be
detected and photographed by the teleradiographic apparatus.  The
electro-magnet automatically carried out the removal of such fragments,
provided only that they are of steel.  Ah yes!  We are very clever in
this twentieth century, reflected the Dop Doctor. Modern Science has
even weighed the Soul.

Could Dee and Lilly have bettered that?  Debate—consider.... This
quenchless spark of Being, kindled in Saxham’s breast and in yours and
mine by the Supreme Will of the Divine Creator—this Ego for whose
eternal salvation Christ died upon the bitter Cross, dips the scale at
precisely one-sixteenth of an ounce avoirdupois.  The expiring man,
weighed a moment previously to dissolution, and again immediately
afterwards, was found to have lost so much and no more.

The dying world is in the scales to-day, thought Saxham, bitterly and
sorrowfully.  Religious Faith being the soul of the world, one wonders,
when the last thin hymn shall have died upon the fierce irrespirable
air; when the last human sigh shall have exhaled from Earth, how much in
ponderability shall be lacking to the acorn-shaped lump of whirling
matter.  Will the result proportionate with the moribund’s sixteenth of
an ounce?

It seemed to Saxham, that without a moral and social upheaval upon a
vaster scale than historian ever recorded or visionary ever dreamed; a
cataclysmic cleansing, a purging as by fire; the regeneration of the
human race, the reconstitution of the human mind, the renaissance of the
Divine Ideal, could never be brought about.  Unconsciously he sought for
the decadent world some such ordeal as he himself had passed through.
You looked at him and saw the scars of suffering.  The soil of his
nature had been rent by volcanic convulsions and seared by the upburst
of fierce abysmal fires, before the green herb clothed the sides of the
frowning steeps, the jagged peaks were wreathed with gentle clouds; the
pure springs gathered and ran; the valleys became fruitful and the
plains carpeted themselves with flowers.

A miracle had been wrought for Saxham the Man, and he saw the need of
one for the World, and said in his heart that, though holy men might
pray, it would not, could not, ever be vouchsafed.  And all the while
the miracle was ripening, the Day was coming, the Great Awakening was at

                             *CHAPTER XXI*

                           *MARGOT LOOKS IN*

It drew on to the luncheon hour.  The last patient a very young, very
little, very pretty married woman, was summoned by the neat maid from
the waiting-room, in a remote corner of which a husband of military type
and ordinarily cheerful countenance, remained, maintaining with obvious
effort a fictitious interest in the pages of a remote issue of _Punch_.

The dainty little lady bore a name well known to Saxham. The fact that a
title was attached to it did not interest him, nor had it shortened her
term of waiting by a second of the clock.  But her youth smote him with
a sense of pity as she took the chair upon his left hand facing the
window, and without overmuch embarrassment made clear her case.

She was going to have a baby.  Franky, her husband, earnestly desired
the kiddie for family reasons, yet its advent was unwelcome to him, in
that it must inevitably involve physical pain and mental anxiety for the
little lady, Franky’s wife.

The little lady had been frightfully downed by the prospect. She rather
cottoned to kiddies, she explained, than otherwise.  It was the bother
of having them that didn’t appeal.  It put everything in the cart as
regarded the Autumn Season.  Besides—there were family reasons on her
side, why the prospect should not be too rosy.  She stated the reasons,
and Saxham’s listening face grew grave.  He realised the danger of a
Preconceived Idea.

He said nothing.  Margot went on talking.  Her beautiful deer-eyes were
alternately wistful and coaxing.  They entreated sympathy.  They begged
for gentleness.  They grew brilliant with enthusiasm as she explained
that after a lot of chinning, she and Franky had hit upon a perfectly
ripping plan.

A friend, recently encountered in Paris, had thrown a ray of hope upon
the doubtful prospect.  No doubt Dr. Saxham was in sympathy with the
pioneers of the New Crusade against Unnecessary Pain....  Of course, Dr.
Saxham knew all about the wonderful experiments of German
gynæwhatdoyoucall’ems.  The right term was frightfully crack-jaw.
Perhaps Dr. Saxham knew what was meant?

Saxham reassured the little lady.

"You refer of course to the experiments of Professors von Wolfenbuchel
of Vienna, and Krauss of the Berlin _Fraüenklinik_, resulting in the
method of treatment now known throughout the Continent as ’Purple
Dreams.’  Wolfenbuchel and Krauss have published a pamphlet on the
subject. Perhaps you have read the pamphlet?"

"Yes—I’ve read it.  A wonderful book that has been translated into every
language.  A German officer, friend of a friend I met in Paris, told her
about it.  His sister had tried the treatment, and found it A1.  So I
bought a French translation of the book in Paris, and an English one at
a shop in the Haymarket.  It’s bound in rose-coloured vellum stamped
with a rising sun in gold.  ’Weep No More, Mothers!’ it’s called.  Isn’t
that a charming title?  And the subject is: ’Pangless Childbirth,
Produced through Purple Dreams.’"

In a sweet, coaxing voice that trembled a little, she began to tell the
Doctor about the wonderful results obtained by hypodermics of Krauss and
Wolfenbüchel’s marvellous combination of drugs.  And Saxham hearkened
with stern patience, while the table-clock ticked and the luncheon hour
drew near, and Franky chewed the cud of suspense in the Doctor’s

Thousands of peasant women, and others of the lower middle-class in
Germany had become mothers under the Purple Dreams treatment.  Maternity
Hospitals in Paris, Brussels, and New York had adopted the method after
controversy and hesitation.  It had triumphed over every doubt.  An
American woman whose brother’s wife had had a "Purple Dreams" baby at
the Berlin Institute had told the little narrator only yesterday how
quite too wonderful was the discovery of the enlightened Krauss and the
gifted Wolfenbuchel.  Everything was made easy.  When your ordeal drew
near you simply went to the place, and signed your name in a book, and
put yourself in the hands of skilled persons.  You felt no pain—not a
twinge.  Only the prick and throb of the hypodermic needle-syringe, and
most people were used to the _pique_ nowadays—administering the first
subcutaneous injections of the wonderful new drug.... Under its mild
sedative influence you dozed off to sleep presently.  And when you woke
up—there was the baby—beautifully dressed, and lying on a lace pillow in
the arms of a smartly dressed, fresh-cheeked nurse.

This had been the experience of the sister of the German officer, as of
the wife of the brother of the American lady. The same thing happening
to thousands everywhere.  The philanthropic Wolfenbuchel and the
benevolent Krauss had made of the stony Via Dolorosa by which Womanhood
attains maternity—a path of soft green turf bordered with fragrant
lilies and bestrewn with the perfumed petals of the rose.

She ended.  Saxham had kept his keen blue eyes steadily upon her during
the eloquent recital.  Not a hair of his black brows had twitched, not a
muscle of his pale face had moved—betraying his urgent inclination to
smile.  His fine hand, lying upon the blotter near the small black
case-book, might have been carved out of ancient Spanish ivory, or
yellow-white lava.  Now he said:

"There is nothing new nor marvellous about the ’Dreams’ method.  It
is—persistent narcosis obtained from the subcutaneous injections of
morphine with the hydrobromide of hyoscine, another alkaloid obtained
from henbane.  I have visited not only the Institute at Berlin, but the
Rottburg Fraüenklinik—and an establishment of the same type in Paris,
and another in Brussels.  It is a fact that when a patient awakens from
the anæsthesia there is no recollection of anything that has taken place
subsequently to the injection of the drug."

"There has been no pain.  Absolutely—none whatever!"  She spoke with a
little, joyful catch in her breath.

"Pardon me," said Saxham.  "You labour under a delusion which the
rose-coloured pamphlet was not written to dispel.  There must have been
pain—if there has been childbirth.  Perhaps there has been overwhelming
pain. Pain manifested by outcries and convulsions—violent
struggles—subdued by the attendants and nurses—for the friends and
relatives of the patient are rigidly excluded—the patient enters and
leaves the Home alone.  Two or three days may have vanished in that
vacuum which has been created in her memory.  Days in which she has been
lying—it may be—strapped to the bed in the private ward of the nursing
home—her purple, congested face and staring eyes concealed by a mask of
wetted linen—her agonies only witnessed by paid attendants whose
interests are best served by denial or concealment—supposing anything to
have gone wrong?"

The relentless surgeon’s hand had torn away the painted curtain.  Margot
contemplated the grim truth in silence for a moment.  Then she found

"But nothing ever _does_ go wrong.  The pink pamphlet says so.  My
American friend’s sister-in-law says so.... Thousands of women have had
children under scopolo—what’s its name?  And none of them felt pain—not
the slightest.  And in every case—in _every_ case—there was the baby
when they woke up!"

The sweet bird-voice quivered.  She had entered the room so full of hope
and enthusiasm, and this man with the piercing eyes and the brusque,
direct manner was putting things before her in a way that dashed and
damped.  Hear him now:

"Yes, there is generally a baby—when it is necessary there should be
one.  Though the patients who are treated in the free wards of German
and Austrian _Kliniks_ may not always be scrupulous upon this point.
Still, if the treatment can be carried out without undue peril for the
mother—and I do not allow this for a single moment—have you not
considered the risk for the child?"

Margot had pulled off one long glove.  Now she murmured, setting the tip
of a little bare, jewelled finger near the corner of a distracting
little mouth:

"You consider that it’s handicapping the start for—the kiddie?"

The avalanche fell; shocking and freezing and stunning her.

"Ask yourself, Lady Norwater, and do not forget to ask your husband:
Will a healthy or a degenerate type of man or woman be eventually reared
from an infant in whom the springs of Life have been deliberately
poisoned with henbane and morphia—before its entrance into the world?"

She gasped:

"Then it’s all U.P.?"  She was slangy even in her tragic misery.  She
sought in her gold vanity-bag and produced the envelope that held the
cheque, but Saxham waved it away.

"Pray put that back....  Neither from rich nor poor do I accept unearned
money.  You have not really consulted me.  You have asked my opinion
upon a course of treatment. And I have given it, for what it is worth.
You will go home, and tell your husband that I have talked tosh, and
consult another physician."

"No, I won’t!" She said it bravely.  "I want you to prescribe!"

"If I prescribe," Saxham told her, "you shall certainly fee me.  But you
do not need treatment."  His eyes smiled though his mouth did not relax
its grimness, as he added: "You strike me as being in excellent health."

She owned to feeling "top-hole," first-class, and simply awfully beany!
Though, and her dimple faded as she owned it, the thought of what must
happen in November took "the gilt off the gingerbread."

"Do not think of what is going to happen in November," Saxham advised
her.  "Or teach yourself to think of it in the right way."  The sense of
her childishness and inexperience went home to the sensitive quick
beneath the man’s hard exterior, as she said to him with an
unconsciously appealing accent:

"But how am I to find out what is the right way?"

He had gained upon her confidence.  The admission proved it.  With
infinite tact he began to win yet another woman to drain out her chalice
of Motherhood, untinctured with the druggist’s nepenthe,—to gain for the
race yet another babe unmarred before its birth.  For this end no labour
was too great for Saxham.  A crank you may call him, but that cranks of
this type are the leaven of the world, you know.

It is typical of the human butterfly Saxham dealt with, that his clothes
pleased Margot.  She liked their characteristic mingling of elegance
with simplicity.  Some fashionable doctors got themselves up like
elderly bloods, others affected garments dating from the year One.
There was neither perfume upon Saxham’s handkerchief nor flue upon his
coat-sleeve.  His shirt of soft white cashmere, his slightly starched
linen cuffs and narrow double collar were fastened with plain buttons of
mother o’ pearl, the black silk necktie was blameless of pin or ring.
The handsome gold chronometer he carried because it had been presented
to him by the Staff and patients of St. Teresa and St. Stanislaus. The
chain attached to it—rather worn and shabby now—was of woven red-brown

The hair of his wife.  A creamy-pale Niphetos rose stood where her hands
had placed it near his writing-pad, in a tall, slender beaker of
green-and-gold Venetian glass.  His eyes drank at the beauty of the
lovely scarce-unfolded blossom. Perhaps the resemblance of the fair
flower to the beloved giver softened the lines of the stern square face
into the smile that Margot liked, as he found her eyes again, saying:

"Perhaps I could better answer your question by telling you how another
patient bore herself in—circumstances akin to yours.  Will it tire you?
I promise not to be unduly prolix.  And to listen commits you to no
course of action. Now, shall I go on?"

"I’d love you to go on!"

Always in extremes, the little wayward creature.  She flushed and
sparkled at the Doctor as he took from its place on his writing-table a
triptych photograph-frame in gold-mounted mother-o’-pearl, folded the
leaves so as to reveal but one of the portraits, and held under Margot’s
eyes the delicately-tinted photograph of a girl of twenty.  The portrait
had been taken the year following Saxham’s return from South Africa with
his young wife.

"How beautiful!" Margot exclaimed.

"Beautiful, as you say, but does she look happy?"

Margot wrinkled her dainty eyebrows, puzzling out the question.  Did she
look happy, the girl of the portrait, whose face and figure might have
served one of the old Greek masters as model for an Artemis to be carved
upon a gem? Well, perhaps not quite happy, now one came to look again.

The black-lashed eyes of golden hazel were full of wistful sadness,
there was a faintly indicated fold between the fine arched eyebrows,
much darker than the rippling red-brown hair, whose luxuriance seemed to
weigh down the little Greek head.  The closely-folded, deeply-cut lips
spoke dumbly of sorrow, the nymph-like bosom seemed rising on a breath
of weariness.  Something was lacking to complete her beauty.  So much
was plain even to Margot.  But not until the Doctor showed by the side
of the first, the second portrait, did she realise what that Something

In the first portrait both face and figure were shown in profile.  In
the second, bearing a date of two years later, the beautiful, sensitive
face of the young woman was turned towards you.  Still rather grave than
smiling, she held in her arms a sturdy baby boy of some twelve months,
upon whose downy head her chin lightly rested.  The clasp of her slender
arms about her child, the poise of her still nymph-like figure,
expressed fulness of life, buoyant energy, and happiness in fullest
measure.  What was previously lacking was now made clear.

"Lovely, quite lovely!" trilled the sweet little voice. "And what an
exquie kiddy!"

"Then you do not dislike children?" Saxham asked, as his visitor’s
husband had done not long ago.

"On the contrary," the little lady assured him, "I rather cotton to
them.  But"—she shrugged her little shoulders prettily and quoted boldly
from another woman—"but the fag of having them doesn’t—appeal!"

The Doctor replaced the threefold frame and turned his regard back upon
his visitor.

"These photographs speak for themselves ..." he said quietly.  "She—the
mother of the boy you see, was, when she first knew that she was to be a
mother, fragile and delicate in body, and in mind highly-strung and
sensitive.  As a child she had known neglect and unkind usage.  Twice
she had sustained an overwhelming shock, physical and mental; she had
rallied, passed through a crisis and regained lost ground.  But the
possibility of a relapse was not to be blinked at.  It was a lion in the

The slight form of the listener was convulsed by a shudder.  The pretty
face lost its wild-rose tint.  The lion in the path ... Margot saw him
crouching, his tawny eyes aflame, his great jaws slavering, his tail
lashing the dust, his great muscles tightening for the fearful spring.
And Saxham went on:

"She maintained from the first a sweet, sane mental standpoint.  She
tamed her lion by sheer force of will.  Her courage was her own: she did
not owe it to the physician and surgeon.  But he advised as he knew
best, and she followed his advice implicitly, as to wholesome diet and
regular exercise, thus keeping her body in health.  She surrounded
herself with objects that were beautiful in form and colour. She made a
point of hearing great music and of re-reading the works of great poets,
essayists, and novelists.  She wished her child to owe much to pre-natal
influences.  For that these——"

The speaker faltered for a moment, before he resumed the thread of his

"—That these form character for good or evil no physiologist can deny.
Therefore while she did not flee from, she avoided the sight of
deformity or ugliness, as she shunned active infection, or tainted air.
It was desirable that her child should be healthy, strong, and
beautiful.  But the love of loveliness, though one of the dominants of
her character, scales lowest of the triad.  Human love, the love of
mother, husband, and friend rank above it, and first of all stands the
love of God."

"How awfully good she must be!"

"She took the child, first and last, as a gift from God to her.  If she
lived or died, and she longed inexpressibly to live—Death, like Life,
would be the fulfilment of the Divine Will.  Fortified by the Sacraments
of her Church she lay down upon her bed of pain as though it were an
altar.  She suffered intensely——"

His voice broke.

"She suffered inexpressibly.  Not until the actual crisis did I have
recourse to chloroform.  When I was about to use it she said to me:
’_Not yet! ... I will wear it a little longer...  this mother’s crown of
thorns._’ To-day the crown is one of roses.  Does not this appeal to

The Doctor’s supple hand displayed the third portrait in the triptych,
and Margot saw the same assured joy, rounded with a richer and more deep
content.  The exquisite face was fuller, the outlines of the form
displayed the ripeness of early maturity, the slender palm was now a
stately tree. The girl of twenty was merged in the woman of thirty, rich
in all feminine graces, beautiful exceedingly, with the beauty that is
not only of line and proportion, form and colour, but shines from
within, irradiating the perishable living clay with the immortal
radiance of the soul.  Her boy stood at her side, a manly square-headed
young British twelve-year-old, wearing a simple, distinctive dress;
familiar to us all.

"Y-yes.  But I’m afraid you have forgotten: I told you at the beginning,
or I meant to....  My—my own mother died when I was born!"

"And that sad fact increases your natural fear and repugnance.
Naturally.  It will strike you as a curious point of resemblance between
your case and that of the—patient whose portrait I have shown you, when
I tell you that her mother did not survive the birth of a later child.
May I tell you further that the possibility of some inherited weakness
does not render you more promising—regarded as a subject for the
treatment of Wolfenbuchel and Krauss."

Margot was beginning to hate this stern-faced man who set forth things
so clearly.  He had bored her almost to weeping.  Why on earth had she
come?  The fact that Franky’s sister Trix’s boy Ronald had been helped
into the world by Saxham thirteen years ago and recently operated on for
the removal of the appendix, was no reason that Franky’s wife should
regard him as infallible.  She glanced at her tiny jewelled wrist-watch.
Ten whole minutes had gone.  She rose.

"You have been so kind, and I have been so much interested.  But I must
go now!" she said, like a weary child pleading to be let out of school.
"Franky—my husband—will be waiting.  I have promised to lunch with him
at the Club."

"If he is here, perhaps Lord Norwater would like to speak to me," Saxham

Margot lied badly.  She reddened as she answered:

"Oh, what a pity that he did not come!"

                             *CHAPTER XXII*

                           *MARGOT IS SQUARE*

She was in what she would have termed "a blue funk" for fear that Saxham
would accompany her to the threshold. But he merely bowed her out of the
consulting-room and smartly shut his door.  Then she tripped to the
waiting-room and beckoned forth Franky with an air of buoyant,
fictitious cheerfulness.  Her eyes were radiant, her little face was
dressed in artful smiles....

"Did I seem long?  Were you getting the hump?" she asked of Franky, who
rose and hurried to meet her, dropping _Punches_ all over the place.
His smooth hair was almost rumpled and his brown eyes begged like a
retriever’s. He asked in the kind of whisper that travels miles:

"Yes—no!  Did you pull off the interview?  What does the Doctor——"

"S-sh!"  She glanced anxiously towards the one remaining patient.  "Tell
you when we get out.  Impossible here!"

He urged: "But is it all right?"

"As right as rain!"

"Good egg!"  She had got him out of the room and as far as the hall
door.  "Stop! ... Wait!  Oughtn’t I to go and thank——"

"No—no!"  The door was open, the neat little landau-limousine that had
brought them was waiting by the kerb-stone.  Before Franky knew it,
Margot had plucked him down the steps, pulled him into the car, and
given the chauffeur the signal.  They were in Hanover Square before he
recovered his breath.

"Oh come, I say, Kittums!  That sort of Sandow business can’t be good
for you.  Why you’re in such a thundering hurry to get me away, I’d
rather like to know?"

Her heart shook her, but she lied again bravely.

"Didn’t you want to hear what the Doctor told me about the ’Purple
Dreams’ treatment?"

"More than anything in the world.  That drug with the freak name! ...
Can it do any harm—to you and——"

"Not a scrap!"

She planted a flying kiss between his ear and his collar. He greatly
appreciated the attention, though it tickled him horribly.

"Dr. Saxham said it was a frightfully clever, practicable method.
Absolutely harmless, and the patient doesn’t suffer—not that much!"  She
measured off an infinitesimal bit of finger-nail and showed him, and
went on as he caught the little hand and gratefully mumbled it: "You
don’t know a thing that happens.  You simply go to bye-bye. And—there’s
always the baby when you wake up!"

"A first-class baby?"  His harping maddened her.  "A healthy little
buffer to send to Eton and represent us in the Regiment, and inherit the
title presently when his poor old Pater pops?  Just look me in the face
like the little sport you are, Margot, and tell me that you’re playing
square with me.  For this—for this is the game of Life!"

He had both her hands.  He made her look at him.  She met his eager
stare with limpid eyes.  And all the while that sentence of Saxham’s
about the pre-natal poisoning of the springs of existence, drummed,
drummed at the back of her brain.  "_What a little beast I am!_" she
mentally commented, hearing her own voice answering:

"I’ve told you No, and that I am playing square with you!"  She grasped
the fact that Franky had suffered, by the grunt of relief with which he
loosed her hands.  "And so it’s settled I go to Berlin about the middle
of—September, say?"

"Wow-wow!  It’s us for the gay life!  Just when the beastly hole’s as
dusty as the Sahara and as hot as hell!"

"You won’t be in the beastly hole, and perhaps I needn’t go before the
beginning of October.  You can go down to Brakehills and slay away at
the pheasants, and run over when I cable, to bring me back——"

"With my boy!  Our boy, Kittums!"

His simple, kind face was quivering.  He put out a strong brown hand and
laid it on hers, and she gave the hand a little affectionate nip:

"Hullo!"  Perhaps he talked on to cover up the momentary lapse into
sentiment.  "Pipe old St. George’s, where we did the deed!  Hardly seems
close on six months since we got spliced, does it?  And there’s the
Bijou Cottage...."  Franky thus irreverently designated the large, drab,
stucco-faced, eminently respectable if mousey mansion on the Square’s
east side, where Margot’s bachelor Uncle Derek lived with his collection
of moths and beetles. "Shall we stop and give the old gentleman a
cheero?  Is he at all likely to be in?"

His hand was on the silk-netted rubber bulb of the chauffeur’s whistle,
when Margot caught it back.

"No, don’t stop!  Of course he’s in.  He never goes out, unless it is to
a meeting of the Entomological Society, or the Museum of Natural
History, or some other place equally stuffy and scientific.  Besides,
Uncle Derek is a vegetarian—and there wouldn’t be anything but tomato
soup, and pea-flour cutlets, and Lepidoptera for lunch!"

"Poor little woman, was she peckish, then?  All lity, we’ll chuff along
and fill up tanks at the Club.  Bally odd bill of fare, pea-flour
cutlets and Lepidop—what’s-their-names? But we’ll get things nearly as
rummy served up to us in Berlin.  Pork chops with sweet gooseberry
sauce, and pink sausages with lilac cabbage and dumplings.  Why do you
look so scared?"

She forced a laugh.

"Not scared, but you said ’_we_’ ..."

"You don’t suppose I could go shooting when you were—facing what you’ve
got to face?" he asked her, and added, in a tone and with a look that
she had once before encountered from him: "When you go to Berlin in
October, Kittums, I go with you; take that as straight from
Headquarters, old child!  Unless—something happens to prevent our going
there at all!"

He added, answering the mute question in her eyes:

"Something that’s been on the cards since the Anglo-French Agreement of
1904.  It cropped up again in 1905, when the German Kaiser’s feelings
were so upset by John Bull’s carryings-on with the pretty lady in the
tricolour petticoat and Cap of Liberty, that he called on the Sultan of
Morocco at Tangier to ask his Sublimity to interfere. And again in 1908
we were up against it ... when Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina,
and Russia took the needle, and William ordered out his best suit of
shining armour in readiness for a scrap....  If there’s anything in the
Triple Entente, the fat was nearly in the fire then.... And again in
1911, over the French occupation of Morocco, when the German gunboat
_Panther_ and the German cruiser _Berlin_ were sent to the closed Fort
of Agadir near the mouth of the smelly River Sus.  That piffed out after
a good deal of what they call ’acute tension between the Powers.’  To
the Services acute tension means the stoppin’ of leave.  And I’d fixed
things up for spendin’ the July fortnight before Henley with some jolly
people at Baden-Baden, and if the trip had come off, the chances are I’d
have come back engaged to another girl!"

"Are you sorry?"

"Do I look sorry?" was the quick _riposte_.  He went on: "France and
Germany went in for ’precautionary measures’ that time.  Precautionary
measures mean concentration of troops on both frontiers, and General
Manoeuvres on the biggest scale.  Dress-rehearsal for a general
mobilisation, you tumble?  While our Home Fleet quietly concentrated on
our north-east coast.  And just when the lid seemed on the point of
being taken off, Billiam the Bumptious climbed down, and withdrew from
Agadir.  The squabble was patched up.  France got a free hand in Morocco
in return for the open door and 100,000 square miles of the Congo Basin.
French and German troops left off mugging at one another across the
frontiers.  Whitehall Wireless, Nordeich Station, and the Eiffel Tower
emitted radios reversin’ the weather-signals from 10 to 0, which means a
dead calm. And the British Fleet gave up all hope and went home to bed.

"But—and don’t you swipe in, Kittums, for I’m gettin’ to the thrillin’
part—the bigwigs who manage Foreign Affairs weren’t taken in so easily.
They knew the bad blood had got to break out somewhere, and it did.
Italy and Turkey went to war in November, 1911, and the Balkan Rumpus
broke out ten months later.  Turkey didn’t win, though her Army has had
German instructors ever since von Moltke licked it into shape in 1835,
and Germany’d naturally expected her to finish as top-dog.  So the
concessions Germany wanted from Turkey were lost.  I rather think the
Prussian Eagle had its eye on Adrianople on the Black Sea coast, and the
Gallipoli Peninsula, for the furtherin’ of her views on the Near
East—and Austria had a fancy for the Sanjak of Novibazar—and wanted
Salonika as a base for operations on the Mediterranean.  Anyhow, both of
’em were wiped on the jaw.  And William the All Too Knowing, as Courtley
calls him—Courtley’s going in strong for Nietzsche just now—says his
works are a slogging attack on Teutonism!—William has got to the end of
his patience. The shining armour’s been hanging up all these years,
getting too tight for an Emperor inclined to run to tummy. The shining
sword was getting rusty in its regulation sheath. And then in the nick
of time—happens the Affair of Sarajevo.  The news came through that
Sunday in Paris.  I remember how Spitz’s Restaurant boiled over, and the
people were shouting ’Sarajevo’ on the boulevards.  By George!  I forgot
you were in bed and asleep while we were dining."

Margot, between waking and sleeping, had got some inkling of the tragedy
of that night.  She asked, as Franky took off his hat and proceeded to
mop his non-intellectual forehead:

"And is Sarajevo likely to stop me from going to Berlin?"

Franky left off mopping and said, looking at her squarely:

"If Austria’s Note to Serbia is—what the Kaiser would like it to be—you
may take it we’re on the giddy verge of a General All-Round Scrap."

"You mean—a war?"

"I mean _the_ War that’ll dwarf all others by comparison. The War of
Nations, that the prophet wrote of in Revelations.  Armageddon....  The
Last Battle.  The Big Bust Up that comes before the end."

"Darling old boy, what rot!"

"Rot if you like.  You wait and see what happens. D’you pipe me tipping
you the gag Asquithian?"  He grinned at the idea.

"Franky, you’ve set me asking myself something."

"Why you’ve married an idiot? ... Is that it?"  He turned upon her a
rueful face from which the grin had been wiped away.

Margot said, as the car turned smoothly into Short Street and stopped
before the Club portico:

"No, but—How is it you know—all the things you know, when I’ve always
known you knew nothing about anything?"

He shook his head.

"Give it up! ... No, I don’t!  The answer is—I’m one of those
fellows—and the Services are simply stiff with ’em, who are absolute
asses till it’s necessary for ’em to be something else."

                            *CHAPTER XXIII*

                            *A MODERN CLUB*

Perhaps in those prehistoric days before the War, you knew the big,
cool, ground-floor dining-room of the "Ladies’ Social" Club.  They
lunched excellently at Margot’s pet table in the corner near the
conservatory, between whose rows of well-tended pot-plants you pass to
the smoke-room, celebrated for its Persian divan, and
green-and-rose-coloured glass dome.

Soon the Club would be abandoned to sweeps, painters, charwomen, and
window-cleaners.  Just now everything was in full swing.  As the little
tables became vacant, the drawing-rooms and lounges filled up.  The
smoke-room was a crush of well got-up men and extravagantly-caparisoned
women, chattering nineteen to the dozen under a thick blue canopy of
Turkish, Egyptian, and Virginian. The tang of Kümmel and Benedictine and
Crème de Menthe came to you with the fragrance of the Club’s especial
coffee and the reek of innumerable illusion perfumes.

People were having a cigarette and a gossip before going on to Lord’s to
see the tennis-singles between Oxford and Cambridge; or the
Inter-Regimental Polo Finals at Hurlingham. Others had just motored back
from witnessing the rowing-matches at Henley, between Eton and Darley,
and the Eton second Eight and Montbeau College, and were recuperating
before dropping in for a whiff of the new comedy at the Ambassador’s, or
the latest revue at the Fleur de Lis.  To be followed by Tango Tea at
the Rocroy, or Unlimited Bridge at the house of an accommodating friend.

Perhaps you can recall them—those men and women of the best and bluest
blood in Britain, strenuously spending their days in doing nothing as
expensively as ever it could be done.  Light, frivolous, shallow,
dry-hearted; restlessly seeking new things on which to waste their
barren energies, they seemed, and bore out their seeming in all
thoroughness; the degenerate sons and daughters of a once great and
splendid race.

Save Vanity and the Pride of Life there seemed but little in Eve or
Adam.  Not overmuch grey brain-matter appeared to be contained within
their small neat skulls. Though in comparison with the modern Eve,
slangy, loud, extravagantly attired in every tint of the Teutonic
dye-chemist’s chromatic register, topped with feathers that missed the
ceiling by a bare half-foot, Adam in his neutral greys, and buffs and
browns, and umbers, struck you as a being of mild demeanour and uncostly
apparel, until looking closer, you found him out.

His nice hair was gummed about his head as sleekly as a golliwog’s.  He
sported stays, for the preservation of his silhouette.  His gossamer
cambric exhaled perfumes like a Georgian dandy’s.  Fashionable
complexion-creams lent his tanned and well-shaved cheek a tempting
peachiness. His socks were all too lovely for description by this feeble
pen of mine.  The uppers of his boots were of every imaginable material
and substance, ranging from silk brocade, green lizard, and ivory-white
shark skin, to sandy-pink armadillo-belly, or the tender grey of the
African gazelle.

The results of the Olympic Games of 1912 must have made dour reading for
the fathers of these youthful Britons, remembering their own triumphs in
the early eighties.  A bitter pill for those stark old men, their
grandfathers, makers of ’Varsity records in ’61 and ’67, whose faith in
the superiority of British lungs and muscles had been bequeathed them by
their own sires.  Yet their juniors took it calmly.  They carried the
stigma of inferiority with cheerful indifference.  Even while holding it
the thing best worth living for—they placidly submitted to be outclassed
in sport.

And both the man and the woman of this era were possessed by strange
crazes and pleased with vivid contrasts. The musical jig-saw puzzles of
Lertes, Hein, and de Blonc vied in their favour with the weird Oriental
Operas of the Russian Rimsky-Korsakov and the delicate rhapsodies of
Delius, and the sylvan nymphs and fauns of Russian Ballet shared their
plaudits with Señora Panchita and Herr Maxi Zuchs, the celebrated
exponents of the Tango.

Ah, yes, it was an extraordinary era.  Slips from that old, old Tree
that bore the Forbidden Fruit had been successfully grafted upon so many
old-world stocks in British orchards, that you caught a tang of its
exotic flavour in almost everything.  Play ran high.  Luxury ran riot.
Period Balls and Upas Club Cabaret Suppers were IT—absolutely IT.
Morality was at lowest ebb—Religion a forgotten formulary.  And as the
Christian virtues cheapened, so the prices of dress, jewellery,
motor-cars, and other indispensables of modern existence climbed to
still more amazing altitudes.  The marvel was, because nobody seemed to
have any money—where the money came from to pay for these things?  What
we are yet to pay for the wholesale levelling of moral barriers, and the
abolition of old-world modesty and good taste, that distinguished the
years of ill-fame 1913 and 1914, only Heaven knows.

Even more comprehensively pervasive than the illusion perfumes extracted
from coal-tar by German chemists, and supplied us by German
manufacturers; even more striking than the dazzling, vivid aniline dyes,
procured from the same source, even more potent than the vast array of
by-product drugs which represent as it were the scum of the insulated
vats wherein the Teuton chemist macerates and mingles his high
explosives—was the strange, mysteriously pervasive flavour, the
seductively-suggestive tang of evil in the social atmosphere.  You
caught the look of secret, intimate, half-cynical knowledge in the faces
not only of the merest youths, but of the youngest, freshest, prettiest
girls.  Subjects held unmentionable a few years ago were openly
discussed in English drawing-rooms.  Curious lore in strange things old
and new was much sought after at this period, when Cubism and Futurism
governed design, not only in dress and stage scenery, but in Painting,
Sculpture, and Architecture; and dances known in the voodoo-houses of
East Africa and the West Indies, and the hells of Central America and
the Argentine were seen in the ball-rooms as in the brothels, of Paris
and London, Petrograd and Brussels, Vienna, New York, and Berlin.

Novelty was so much the rage, that if the Arch-Enemy of Mankind had
appeared among the exclusive patrons of a fashionable night-club in any
one of these cities, a hearty welcome would have been extended to him,
and his ripe experience would have been laid under contribution with a
view to imparting to the latest Cabaret entertainment some exotic
novelty from Hell.

Franky with obtrusive care selected a comfortable corner of the Persian
divan for Margot, and while she signed for coffee and Kümmel,
established himself at her side.

They were isolated, it seemed to Kittums.  Friends nodded and smiled
cordially, but did not attempt to join them.  Was it because Franky’s
too-possessive manner had told secrets? ... She shivered and glanced at
her lord.  He said, as the light-footed button-boys scoured about with
coffee and liqueur-trays, while the electric fans purred, the blue
smoke-canopy thickened under the green and rose glass dome, and the
clamour of many feminine voices, in combination with the gaudy feathers
of the clamourers, suggested the South American macaw-house at the Zoo:

"My eye! you’re pretty thick in here.  Might be a fog in mid-Channel."
He mounted a square monocle recently purchased in Paris and the pride of
his bosom, threw back his head and stared up into the famous green and
rose dome. "Swagger affair.  How much did it tot up to?"

"Seventeen hundred, clear, with the carpet and the divan."

"Pretty stiff!"  His doleful whistle set Margot’s teeth on edge.  She

"And rattling cheap at the price!  And—if it wasn’t, I was spending my
own money....  There was nobody—then—to interfere!"

He conceded:

"Of course I don’t suggest that you were done in the eye. Probably you
got the value of your dibs.  But you’ll have something better to spend
cash on presently.  Me, too! We must both draw in our horns now,
Kittums.  For the sake of—you know who! ... Hullo!  Is anything wrong?"

She had winced, but she gritted her little teeth, and fought back the
rising hysteria.  She could have shrieked, or thrown the little
coffee-pot at his head.  He went on, recognising friends through the

"There’s Lady Beau with that German aviator-chap we met in Paris.  Big
red-headed brute.  You remember him?  And—who’s the girl?  But for her
hair, I’d say it was Miss Saxham.  By the Great Brass Hat, it is!  With
a wig, or dyed...."

"Dyed.  It was done in Paris—done most beautifully."  Margot’s eyes had
lighted up with interest.  "I must have forgotten to tell you.  I’ve
known it three or four days. Don’t you like it?"

"Like it?"  Franky had reached for his little glass and gulped the
contents hurriedly.  "My stars, I never saw such a transformation.
Order another Kümmel, please, to give me a buck-up."

"Take mine.  I simply loathe the sticky stuff."  She added, as Franky
obliged: "_I_ think that Pat looks ripping."

"All too ripping.  That’s where the trouble comes in."  He went on:
"When her hair was black, you knew where it was you’d seen her.  Makin’
one in an endless procession of women—all with long eyes and big busts
and curving hips, walkin’—like pussy-cats along a roof-ridge, on the
walls of those old Egyptian temples we did together—that November when I
got such spoons on you—going up with the Gillinghams from Cairo to
Philae—a flat-bottomed Nile tug towin’ the whole crowd in a string of
dahabeahs.  You remember those ochre-coloured Nile sunrises?  When a
dust-storm had been blowin’ over the Desert, and the River was all
wrinkly white, like curdled milk."

"How killingly poetic!"

"Am I poetic?  Good egg!  Never thought I’d live to be called that."

"Live and learn!"  Margot’s laugh was a hard little silvery tinkle.  She
too was remembering the sunrises and sunsets of Egypt, and the long days
under the green canvas awnings.  How beautiful she had thought the brown
eyes that seemed only vacuous now.  She, Margot, would be ugly very soon
now, she told herself.  Already her small face showed lines and hollows.
Soon beauty-loving men and women would turn their eyes away....  Her
cheval-glass would tell her why, and shop-windows when she passed them
would reveal her shapelessness.  She would only possess interest for
three people.  For the doctor, as a patient.  For the certificated
nurse, as a Case.  For her husband, as the potential mother of the boy
he longed for. And—what price Margot?

"Should you like me to take you to see some polo, or wouldn’t a
chuff-chuff in the country be best?"  Franky’s eyes were full of hungry
solicitude as they rested on the small, pinched features.  "You look a
bit fagged, it strikes me!"

She nipped her little lower lip, stung by the tone of sympathetic
proprietorship.  "Oh! very well.  A drive!" she told him, and they
passed together from the smoking-room. The sheath-skirt revealed, as she
moved, what she would have hidden.  Von Herrnung smiled, following the
little figure with bold, curious glances.  Other men stared, if more
discreetly.  Towering feathers nodded to each other as their feminine
wearers commented:

"Poor little Margot, how quite too rough on her!"

Said Lady Beauvayse, assuming the rip-saw Yankee accent in which it
pleased her to deliver her witticisms:

"Say now! if we women could pick babies right away off the
strawberry-vines, it would save a deal of trouble, and a considerable
pile of self-respect."

Everybody laughed.  A slender white and golden woman with a string of
sapphires very much the colour of her own eyes, picked up a toy
Pekingese that squatted near her, and said, cuddling the goggling morsel
under her chin:

"I agree.  When I look at my two precious duckies I say to myself: ’You
little dears, for each of your sweet sakes I became a plain woman with a
shapeless silhouette and saucer-eyes.  Now that I’ve done my duty to
your pappy and Posterity, this is the only kind of baby I’ll indulge
in."  She kissed the Pekingese on the end of its black snub-nose. "And
when I want a new one—I’ll buy it at the shop!"

"_Noch besser_.  Why not hire one? ..." suggested von Herrnung.

Mrs. Charterhouse laughed and gave him the Pekingese to hold.  But it
snapped at him furiously and she took the little beast back again.

"Dogs do not like me," said the big German.  "You will read perhaps in
novels that that is a bad sign, yes?"

"I never read novels," returned Mrs. Charterhouse, with her famous
manner, "nor any books, only bits of the papers for the Sporting and
Society news.  And Reports of Divorce Proceedings, and the Notices in
Bankruptcy.  One likes to know what one’s friends are doing, and where
they are to be found.  Don’t you, Count?  Not that there is any great
difficulty in ascertaining your whereabouts, just now, I fancy....  Why,
what has become of Patrine?"

"Miss Saxham went in there just now to write a letter," said the smiling
von Herrnung, pointing to the leather-covered swing-doors communicating
with the writing-room. "She comes now, I think!  Yes, it is she!"  He
rose with his air of exaggerated courtesy as the tall figure of Patrine
Saxham returned through the swing-doors and re-crossed the room.  She
carried her head high, and had a letter in her hand.  The alteration in
the colour of her hair made her whiteness almost startling.  There were
bluish shadows about her long eyes, and her rounded cheeks had lost a
little of their fulness, but her beauty had never been more apparent
than now.

"She has dyed, therefore she is dead to me!" groaned Courtley, who was,
as usual, in attendance on Lady Beauvayse.  He added, plaintively: "It’s
like—white-washing the Sphinx, or enamelling a first-class
battle-cruiser in some fashionable colour.  Why did you let her do it,
my lady fair?"

Lady Beauvayse retorted:

"Am I Miss Saxham’s mother that I should meddle in her love-affairs?"

"If I was acquainted with her mother," said Courtley, below his breath,
"and thought the good lady would take my tip seriously, I’d step in and
nip this affair in the bud. It’s no go, even if Miss Saxham thinks it
is.  It’s a dud. That German flying-chap is booked to marry a cousin; a
Baroness Something von Wolfensbragen-Hirschenbuttel. I’ve seen it in the
Berlin _Lokal Anzeiger_, and that’s inspired, a sort of Imperial Court
Almanac.  And even if it wasn’t true, there are reasons—"  His kind grey
eyes were worried, he tugged at his pointed black beard in a vexed way.
"Take me seriously, Miladi, tell her what I’ve told you, before it’s too

"And bring on myself the fate of the interferer.... Couldn’t you—since
you’re so anxious?" Lady Beauvayse began.

"Not possible," said Courtley.  "Too crushed with responsibilities.  Got
to brush up my seamanship, while my junior executive swots away in Docks
at Chatham, fillin’ in the watch-bill and making out

"You’ve got a ship, do you mean?"

Courtley nodded.

"They call her one at the Admiralty just by way of being funny.  When
they’ve scraped off the dirt enough to get at her, she may turn out to
be a first-class protected cruiser. Twenty months out of commission—and
mobilised for the Spithead Naval Review."

"Ought one to be glad? ... Does it mean that we’re to congratulate you
on promotion?" asked puzzled Lady Beauvayse.

"Well," Courtley admitted cautiously, "when I’ve got my full-dress
frock-coat and sword out of pawn, and hoisted my pennant and called on
the post Commander-in-Chief—I shall be something between a Rear-Admiral
and a Post Captain—or they’ll have told me wrong."

"And the Review—what do you call it?" persisted Lady Beauvayse.  "Can
one go and see it—whenever it comes off?"

"It’ll be big enough to see—with a stiffish pair of binkies," admitted
Courtley in his gentlest manner; "and the newspapers seem to have
arranged it for somewhere in the middle of the month.  As to what you’re
to call it—if you called it an Object Lesson on the biggest scale for
the use of German Kultur Classes, perhaps you wouldn’t be very wide of
the bull."

He got up before Lady Beauvayse could rejoin, and had met Patrine, and
engineered her into his vacated seat next her friend upon the divan
almost before she knew.  She lowered her tall person upon the cushions,
studiously avoiding von Herrnung’s glances.  She wore a white
embroidered gown of cobwebby material and extreme scantiness, a stole of
black cock’s feathers was looped about her shoulders, and on her dead
beech-leaf-coloured hair sat a curious little hat of glittering silver
spangles, from which sprang a single black cock’s plume.

"What have you all been talking about?" she asked, looking about her.

Lady Wastwood, who sat near, answered, balancing her long, slim, fragile
personality on the fender-stool before the hearth that was filled with
tall ferns and flowering plants in pots:

"We were saying—what a wretched pity the process of racial reproduction
is so abominably unbecoming.  It really points to a loose style of
reasoning on the part of Nature—or whoever it is who arranges these

Who does not know Lady Wastwood.  She affected, at this period, a
skull-cap of gold-green hair and a triangular chalk-white face, with a
V-shaped mouth, painted scarlet as a Pierrot’s.  Her eyebrows were black
and resembled musical slurs.  Through her few diaphanous garments you
could have counted every bone of her frail person, so light that it was
a favourite vacation joke with her eldest boy—who was now at Sandhurst
qualifying for a Cavalry Commission—to sprint with his widowed mother on
his shoulder up and down corridors and stairs.

Listen to Trixie:

"I suppose—Nature.  She’s so unreasonable—that must be why she’s a she,
in literature.  She implanted in us poor women the raging desire to be
pretty under all imaginable circumstances....  At the same time she says
to us: ’You’re immoral, unnatural, and selfish, if you don’t replenish
the Race.  Go and do it!’  Consequently, when one is ordered in that
bullying way to choose between immorality and ugliness, one calls out:
’Oh! do let me be pretty, please!’"

A soldierly, good-looking man, sitting with a charming girl in a
particularly smoky corner, lazily propounded:

"Why do women covet prettiness beyond everything?"

"To please men, I rather surmise," said Lady Beauvayse, turning her
Romney head in the direction of the speaker, who queried:

"Ah! but why do women want to please men?"

"I can answer that," interrupted Mrs. Charterhouse. "Because she who
pleases is perfectly sure of having a gorgeous time."

"It has been said by some inspired idiot," lisped Lady Wastwood "that
women make themselves beautiful for the sake of their own sex.  Give us
your opinion on this question, Count von Herrnung.  Did I put on this
perfectly devey frock for Miss Saxham, or for you?"

"_Gnädige Gräfin_, for neither myself nor Miss Saxham. For your own
pleasure," said von Herrnung, "have you joy in making yourself

"You feel like that when your tailor has done you particularly well?"
asked Lady Wastwood, wickedly, looking down her long, thin nose to hide
the sparks of humour in her eyes. Half a dozen pairs of ears were cocked
to catch the answer, in which von Herrnung’s characteristic lack of
humour showed.

"Gracious Countess, certainly.  It is _prachtvoll_ for a cultured man to
study and develop his physical advantages. To please women," he made his
little insolent bow, "who adore Beauty, and for the sake of ingratiating
oneself with men.  But above all for one’s own sake.  For ugliness is
despicable," said von Herrnung.  His florid face paled, his hard blue
eyes dilated, he shivered as he spoke with uncontrollable disgust.  "It
is—_niedrig_!  There is no other word! No longer to be beautiful and
strong—that would be horrible!  There are many ugly accidents in our
German Flying Service.  Thus far I have escaped disfigurement. But when
my time comes I shall take care to be killed outright.  Better to die
than to be made hideous!"

"Did you hear?" said the man in the distant corner to the charming girl
who shared it with him.  "The fellow’s dead in earnest.  And he is
uncommonly good-looking, though I don’t care about the German Service
type of man myself.  Don’t like their clothes, don’t like their
jewellery, don’t like their tone when they’re talking to women, and
simply loathe it when they’re talking to me!"

"It’s a case of Doctor Fell," said his pretty friend.  "Now _I_ should
admire him—if he admired himself a little less, and his valet or
somebody with influence over him could persuade him to cut that awful
thumb-nail.  No, you can’t see it now.  He’s wearing a glove on his left
hand.  But it can’t be under two inches long."

"Queer kind of freak for a Twentieth Centurion," said the man
contemptuously.  "All very well for the Imperial Court of China, or a
Stone Age make-up for a Covent Garden Fancy Ball.  But for a London
drawin’-room in the year 1914 it is a little off the bull.  We must
approach Miss Saxham in the matter of cutting it.  She appears to be the
Ruling Star."

His friend glanced across at the big knot of people gathered near the
ferny fireplace.

"They go about together a good deal, and he does stare at her in rather
a possessive style.  She’s so awfully good to look at, isn’t she?"

"She is; but she isn’t quite so good for you to know!"


"Could we drop the subject?  I’ll say why later.  Let’s scoot now!  With
luck, we could nip in for the end of the second act of ’The Filberts’ at
Ryley’s Theatre, and see Jimmy Griggson do ’The Dance of the

And they rose and sauntered away in search of entertainment, leaving
Cynthia Charterhouse drawing out von Herrnung, who seemed in a
particularly arrogant mood. Did he like England and London especially?
Did he find English women as nice, generally, as the friends he had left
at home?


"Nice....  One is charmed with English ladies!" declared von Herrnung.
"So tall, willowy, and elegant, so independent of manner, and so amiably
ready to make a stranger feel at home!  True, they have not the
plumpness and repose of our German ladies ... at the theatres especially
they are rather thin than otherwise....  But they have _gehen_ and
_chic_"—he showed his white teeth—"and change is a delightful thing!"

Patrine, silent in her settee-corner, wondered whether Trixie Wastwood
and Cynthia Charterhouse knew that he was insulting them?

"Change from a fat woman to a thin one, is that what you mean?" asked
Mrs. Charterhouse.  She added: "I’m so glad we strike you as having lots
of go.  Perhaps it’s a result of our being given to exercise, that
general effect of slimness you mention.  But if German women don’t walk,
or ride, or skate, or fence, or swim, they do dance a great deal."

"They dance a great deal, yes!" agreed von Herrnung. "One might say they
are passionately devoted to it.  Dancing is also one of the chief joys
of a German officer’s life—when he has handsome partners to choose
amongst!"  He added: "When one is young, and the blood runs hot in the
veins, what more glowing pleasures can Life offer, than to ride a noble
horse, to drink glorious wine, or to dance all night with a beautiful
woman, to the sound of music voluptuous and exquisite!"

Patrine, behind the shelter of a copy of the _Pall Mall Gazette_, was
shuddering uncontrollably.  Her life seemed driven back from the
extremities to centre about her heart. In that and in her brain were
glowing cores of fire.  All else was ice, rigid and heavy and cold.

"Dear me!" came plaintively from Mrs. Charterhouse. She signalled with
her eyebrows to Lady Wastwood and continued, as the diaphanous Trixie
came drifting to her assistance: "Really, I shall have to seek a
delightful change by going to Germany.  I’d quite forgotten how
different you are!  The way you talk about your blood, and all that.
It’s simply too awfully interesting!  Trixie, you’ve got to listen to

"I need no telling, I assure you.  I have been drinking in Count von
Herrnung’s eloquence at every pore," affirmed Trixie.  She added: "Like
you I have been deeply intrigued by his descriptions of his countrymen.
So, _so_ different from our poor creatures, who don’t drink glorious
wine because they funk gouty complications, and leave their noble horses
eating their heads off in loose-boxes while they’re scorching about the
country in racing-cars.  And as for dancing all night—"  She shrugged
her frail shoulders, and elevated her Pierrot eyebrows beneath the veil
that tightly swathed her white triangular face.

"Doesn’t it fire you to go to Germany?" gushed Mrs. Charterhouse.
"Why"—she demanded, raising her fine eyes to the genuine Adam
ceiling—"why can’t my husband get a post in the Berlin Diplomatic,
instead of stupid old Petersburg?  One never _dreamed_ Germans could be
so interesting before!"

"We are interesting, yes!" blandly agreed von Herrnung. He lighted a
fresh cigarette, balanced his magnificent person upon an inlaid Oriental
chess-stool, folded his huge arms upon his broad breast, and turned upon
Trixie and the impressionable Cynthia the batteries of his superb blue
eyes. "_Es mag wohl sein_—it may possibly be because the Englishman is a
human machine—a cold and formal, if intelligent being; while the German
is a child of Nature, whatever his calling may be.  His bounding pulses
throb under the official or military uniform as though it were a
fawn-skin worn by a young satyr.  He can sing.  He can revel.  He can
enjoy. He can love——"

"He can love!  Now you’re getting really quite too interesting!" Mrs.
Charterhouse exclaimed in seeming ecstasy: "Do go on, Count.  Pray, pray
tell us how German officers love!"

"Yet this exuberance, and seeming-careless child-likeness," pursued von
Herrnung, "co-exists in the representative male of our glorious German
nation with an energy which is pitilessly indomitable, and a hardness
like that of diamond, or of the metal of the Hammer of Thor.  Scratch
the child, joyous and voluptuous"—the ladies nodded to each other
delightedly at this second reference to voluptuousness—"you will find
beneath its rosy skin the German Superman.  _Gnädige Gräfin_, may I give
you a cigarette?"  He pulled out a massive silver-gilt case, and offered
it to Lady Wastwood, who had thrown away the end of a tiny Péra.

"Thanks," said the lady, "but it might turn out a super-cigarette and
disagree with me.  How astonishingly well-informed you Germans are upon
the subject of yourselves! I’ve met heaps of your countrymen whom the
subject seemed perfectly to obsess.  I suppose they begin to teach you
at a very early age, don’t they?  Don’t you suppose they would, Cynthia

Mrs. Charterhouse agreed.

"Of course.  But I wonder if that sort of—might one call it—intensive
culture?—can be good for you?"  With her charming head on one side she
regarded von Herrnung pensively.  "Don’t you _sometimes_ get fed up with
yourselves? One would somehow suppose you would!  Like the East End
Board School children whose mother had to write to the Fifth Standard
teacher to ask her not to tell Hemma and ’Arriet any more nasty things
about their insides."

Courtley and Lady Beauvayse, who under cover of a separate conversation
had been listening, were seized with simultaneous attacks of coughing,
rose and escaped from the smoking-room.  Patrine Saxham remained,
seeming to study the newspaper she had picked up.  But only a confused
jumble of letters, big and little, danced up and down the columns she
held before her eyes.

And yet there were lines scattered here and there throughout the
newspapers, that boded ill for the peace of the world. How little we
dreamed of what was coming while crowded London audiences applauded
Jimmy Greggson in the "Dance of the Varalette."  The River was ablaze
with multi-coloured sweaters, vast crowds planked their gate-money to
witness cricket-matches, lawn-tennis and polo-matches, Flying contests,
and bouts between International champions at the ancient game of

Even while the handsome young French heavy-weight Carpentier was
whacking the Yankee Smith at Olympia, white-faced, weary-eyed men of
great affairs were spending the hot hours of the July days and
nights—_minus_ a stray half-hour for a meal and a snatched eyeful of
sleep now and then—in reading reports in cipher sent by lesser men,
agents of the Secret Intelligence Department—who were registered as
numbers and owned no names.

These told of vast preparations long complete, and terrible designs
perfect and perfecting.  Poison-fruit, grown and matured in shade, now
bursting-ripe and ready to kill. The aërials thrilled, the long waves
travelled through invisible ether, carrying the despatches for the
weary-eyed men.

The despatches were not all in cipher.  Thus little polyglot employés,
youthful radiotelegraphic operators in charge of ship-stations in
Territorial or foreign waters, or Wireless posts quite recently
established on foreign frontiers, found themselves sharers in the secret
councils of Ambassadors, Emperors, Kings, and Presidents.

In their ear-pieces such words as "situation," "utmost gravity,"
"friction avoided," "Triple Alliance," and "Triple Entente," were
repeated over and over.  To them the tuned spark sang what the Tsar was
saying to his Cousin of Great Britain and the Dominions overseas.  They
heard the British Foreign Secretary talking from Downing Street to the
British Ambassador at Berlin, and the British Ambassador at Paris, and
the French President, on a visit to Tsarskoe Selo, replying to
_communiqués_ from the Quai d’Orsay.  Also de Munsen from the Embassy at
Vienna, confirming Whitehall views as to the extreme gravity of the
Austro-Servian situation.

Last, but not least, the voice from a certain guarded sanctum in the
Kaiserlicher Palais on the Schloss Platz, Berlin, saying in a cipher of
grouped numbers, the secret language of Hohenzollern intrigue not
understood of little operators—things that bleached the face of the
listener in London to the yellow of old cheese.

"As Vicegerent of the World, charged by Almighty God with the supreme
duty of maintaining peace among nations ... warn these silly devils of
the danger in which they stand!  Just for the word ’neutrality’—a word
in War-time often disregarded—they risk annihilation of a dynasty by my
conquering sword, and the inevitable blotting-out of the British race.
Invasion Belgium indispensable.... Must strike the blow before Russia
could get to the frontier. Life and death as regards the Success of my
Plan.  Delay by diplomacy.  Promise anything for neutrality.  Obtain an
understanding of non-intervention.  Bluff for all you are worth!"

Again in yet more groups of numbers, the vocal spark sang on and on:

"Attention.  If the Secret Service agent who has managed to get into
Lord Clanronald’s service as under-librarian at Gwyll Castle can secure
complete copies—or better still, the originals—of the old Lord’s plans
for construction of the secret War-machine that hypocritical England has
kept up her sleeve out of so-called humanity since the days of the
British Regency—strike a deal with him at once.  To the _ménu_ that will
presently be served to our enemies—beginning with
Super-Explosive—explosive bullets, incendiary shells, lachrymatory
shells serving as _entrées_—the bombardment of Dover from Calais—the
destruction of London and the chief Naval Ports of Great Britain by our
Zeppelin Fleet being the _pièce de résistance_ of the banquet—the
Clanronald Death-engine will be added as fifth course!  Thou wilt pay
the rogue who has dared to stickle for higher terms ten thousand pounds
in English banknotes on account of the sum of twelve million marks he
presumptuously demands of us.  The balance will be paid him on personal
application at the Wilhelmstrasse—you understand!  Warn Prince Henry and
von Moltke not to risk bringing the Secret Plans personally.  Should the
loss of the documents be discovered, suspicion would instantly attach to
one of these two.  Trust not the thief; he may be tempted to betray us.
Send the plans by Undersea Boat 18 now on coast-observation duty in Area
88—fathoms 50—44, east of Spurn Head.  Annulled.  Forward by air.
Squadron-Captain-Pilot von Herrnung of my 10th Field Flight will be
detailed for this duty, being now in London investigating the value of a
new stabiliser—rejected by the English War Office—which the French
Chiefs of the Service Aë are anxious to secure.  Tell him to obtain a
personal flying-test from the inventor.  I say no further! As the
Hohenzollern were noble robber-knights, so also were von Herrnung’s
ancestors.  Let the eagle fly home to his Imperial master with booty
from across the sea.  England may suppose him drowned.  France also....
We shall know better....  A hearty welcome awaits the proud bird-knight
alighting on our German soil."

                             *CHAPTER XXIV*


Rhona Helvellyn came stalking in, looked round, recognised Patrine, came
over and dropped down beside her on the divan, full to the brim of the
invariable subject, and suffering to talk.

Through the good offices of a legal pal she had got in to hear the
Suffragette Trial at the Old Bailey that day.  Fan Braid and Kitty Neek
had been frightfully plucky.  Full of grit and vim, in spite of the six
weeks’ hunger-strike.  Began shrieking like Jimmy O! the moment they
were brought into the dock by the warders and wardresses.  On being
rebuked by the Judge, Fan had bunked a bundle of pamphlets at the head
of his lordship, catching the Clerk of the Court, who was seated
immediately underneath the Bench, no end of a biff in the eye.

"And then?"

Patrine heard a strange voice from her own stiff lips asking the

"Then both of ’em were removed from the Dock.  It was done—in time!"
Rhona’s light eyes danced with enjoyment. "Such a scrimmage!  Such a
rumpus!  Took three men and a woman to tackle each of ’em.  We could
hear ’em giving tongue all the way down to the cells.  Then they had to
go on with the Trial without ’em."  She chuckled. "You may guess there
were a lot of us at the back of the Court waiting—just for that!
Perfect wadge all together. Hell and trimmings when we started.  They
had to eject us before they could jog on with their gay old summing-up!"

"But in the end they got through?"  The weary voice was so unlike
Patrine’s that she wondered why Rhona did not jump and stare at her.
But Rhona was mounted on her hobby-horse, and unobservant of other

"Through right enough!  And Fan and Kitty—"  Rhona screwed up her lips
into the shape of a whistle, and winked away a tear that hung on one of
her fair eyelashes; "It’s too brutal!  Three months each, and poor
little Kitty dying of lung-trouble.  They only brought her back from
Davos in May.  That riles me!"  She clenched her hands fiercely and went
on, cautiously lowering her tone: "So far I’ve taken no active share in
any Militant Demonstration. Partly because I’d be wiped off the Club
books if I got spouting in public, or was mixed up in any police-court
business, partly because I’m funky—there’s the word!  But at last I’m
wound up!  It was Kitty’s little peaky-white face did it! ... She—she
broke a blood-vessel as the warders were carrying her down to the

A sob choked Rhona’s voice, and a spasm of misery wrenched her.  She
controlled herself.  She was deadly in earnest—wound up to go, as she
had said.  She went on, talking rapidly, in a tone that only reached the
ear it had been meant for.  How many such secret disclosures the Club
divan had known.

"I’ve thought....  A regular swarm of Distinguished French and Belgian
Big Pots and Little Pots—Mayors—Prefects and Deputies, Judges, Press
Representatives and Inspectors-General—are engaged in Discovering
England this week as ever is.  It’s an echo of the Entente Cordiale.
Behind the badge of the International Advancement Association—I’ve got
one!—I might drop in at one of their farewell speechifications, I
believe the next’s on Friday at Leamington—and heckle ’em like one
o’clock! Ask ’em why women don’t have the Vote in France and Belgium——"

"Don’t they?"

"Nix a bit!  Not for all the fuss they make about the sex.  Or—to fix
the scene of my maiden effort nearer home—there’s a Banquet of
Archbishops, Bishops and their wives at the Mansion House to-morrow
night.  Music just after the flesh-pots and before the speeches or
after—a select company of Concert Artistes, the gemmen in boiled shirts
and the usual accompaniments; the ladies in white with black sashes and
black gloves.  And that’s where I shall come in—in white with black
trimmings.  Land of Hope and Glory!—when I get up and ask the Archbishop
of Canterbury to plump for Female Suffrage!—or shall it be the Lord
Mayor? ... Won’t my Uncle Gustavus burst the buttons off his episcopal
waistcoat.  You’ve seen him. He’s Bishop of Dorminster—and they fasten
’em at the back."

"Let the Bishop keep his buttons on!" said Patrine, suddenly and
savagely.  "What the—devil does it matter whether women get the Vote?
Would we keep it if we got it, or throw it away—oh! idiots—idiots!—to
gratify some vulgar vanity, or some beastly sensual whim?"

"Gee-whillikins!"  Rhona whistled shrilly in astonishment. "Why, I
thought you were one of Us.  Not actively militant, but a sympathiser,
no end.  Didn’t you get our Committee in touch with Mrs. Saxham, when
we’d set our hearts on having her speak at the Monster Meeting of Women
we’re going to have in October at the Grand Imperial Hall?  She’s
promised to address us on Suffrage and we’re all over ourselves to hear
her.  That last article of hers in _The National Quarterly_—’The Burden
of Tyre,’ has collared the literary cake.  People tell me who’ve read it
that she doesn’t care a hang about the Vote for Women in any other sense
than that it’d open a gateway to legislation on the Sex Question of a
much more drastic kind.  She’d bring in a Bill to have moral offences
against children dealt with by a Jury of Mothers—a lot they’d leave of
the offender once they’d their claws on him!—and make it a Life Sentence
every time, for the fellow who seduces a girl."

Patrine listened in stony silence.  Rhona chattered on. "Of course the
work she does amongst those unlucky wretches—young girls and women
who’ve come to grief—is topping.  But why waste herself rescuing
prostitutes and street-walkers?  Aren’t any of us good enough—or bad
enough to interest her?  I’m going to ask her that when you introduce
me—remember you’ve promised to!"

Patrine said in a voice jarred and harsh with anger:

"Since your declared intention is to be offensive to Mrs. Saxham, whose
shoes neither you nor myself, nor any woman of our set is worthy to
unlace, I take back the promise, if it was ever given!"

"What’s up?"  Rhona turned and stared.  "I say!—but you look fearfully
seedy!  Worried about Margot, is that it?"  She was off on another tack,
carried by the light shifting breeze of her imagination.  "Poor little
Margot!—in spite of good advice and top-hole mascots—booked for the
Nursery Handicap—and out of the running for a year!"

"Who told you—that?—about Margot?"

"Melts—the head housemaid here—had it from Kittum’s maid Pauline, who
dropped in to fetch away some stored luggage of her ladyship’s....
They’ve furnished a house at Cadogan Place—Margot and her Franky-wanky.
West End enough, and quite exquie inside, but not as convee as the dear
old Club.  But—I believe I’m boring you."  Her nimble glance left
Patrine’s face, and darted in the direction of von Herrnung.  "Who’s the
big, good-looking, carroty man, gobbling you up with his eyes while he’s
talking piffle to Cynthia and Trix?  Now I remember—I _have_ heard some
hints of your going over to the Common Enemy."  Rhona’s sharp light eyes
sparkled like polished gold-stones.  "Is that the reason why you’ve
bleached your hair?  What a putrid shame of you!  And the Enemy’s a
foreigner—a German!  Did he give you that gorgeous ring?"

Upon the third finger of Patrine’s left hand was the magpie pearl set in
platinum, gleaming to its wearer’s fevered fancy, like some malignant
demon’s eye.  Rhona caught the hand, and uttered a little squeak as
Patrine wrenched it away.  She—Patrine—was driven beyond endurance: her
self-command was breaking.  Her hair seemed to creep upon her tingling
scalp.  Down her spine and along the muscles of her thighs passed slow
recurrent waves of physical anguish.  She could have screamed aloud,
torn her garments, set her teeth in her own flesh.  But she mastered
herself sufficiently to say:

"I won the ring over a bet in Paris.  You can see for yourself I don’t
wear it on the engagement left.  Do not despair of me.  At this moment I
do not particularly esteem women.  But on the other hand, I absolutely
abominate men!"

"Hope for you then, politically speaking," said the misanthropic Rhona.
"What, are you going?"

Patrine had thrown aside her paper and risen, towering over her.  She
nodded without speaking, and went out of the smoking-room, crumpling the
letter she had written in her strong white hand.  She would not post it,
she told herself as she passed through the outer lounge.  She would go
and look up Uncle Owen at Harley Street.  She spoke a word to an agile
hall-boy in the vestibule and he skipped out, and signalled a taxi-cab.

A handsome Darracq four-seater, enamelled bright yellow and fitted in
ebonized steel, was waiting by the kerbstone. As the taxi manoeuvred to
get round it, von Herrnung’s voice said, speaking behind Patrine:

"Stop the boy, that machine will not be wanted.... I have here a car
that is lent me by a friend."

She turned and saw him, standing hat in hand.  His tone was pleasant,
and he was smiling.  He went on:

"He—my friend—is a Secretary of our German Embassy. He has three
automobiles—why should he not lend me one?"  He replaced his hat and
pulled a curved gold cigar-case out of the breast-pocket of his
waistcoat asking: "I may light a zigarre after these stupid cigarettes I
have been smoking? It will not be unpleasant to _gnädiges Fräulein_?"

His courtesy insulted.  His smile was an outrage.  She controlled the
trembling of her lips with difficulty.  Whether he observed or not was
uncertain, he seemed to busy himself solely with the selection and
kindling of his cigar.

"Pardon that I get in first, as I shall be driving!" he said, and threw
away the smoking vesta, pushed back the hall-boy who was wrestling with
the door-handle, got in and took his place at the steering-wheel,
beckoning to Patrine.

"Thanks, but I cannot....  I am going to Berkeley Square."

"I will drop you at Berkeley Square."  He met her eyes hardily.  "You
will not refuse me this pleasure, when I have not seen you since—"  The
slight significant pause stabbed as it had been meant to.  He saw her
wince, and finished: "Since two days.  Will you not get in?"

She took the seat beside him.  He stretched his arm across her knees and
shut the door neatly.  She leaned back to avoid his touch, and he
smiled, feeling her shudder.  Her eyes were on his gloved left hand as
he drew it back.

He manipulated the electrical starter and the yellow Darracq moved up
and out of Short Street.  Patrine stared before her, sitting rigid in
her place.  Not once did her glance visit _him_.  But every skilful
movement of his hands upon the steering-wheel, every creak of the
springy leather cushion under his great body, every tightening of his
mouth or twitch of his thick red eyebrows, were photographed upon her

He was irreproachably got up in thin, loose grey tweed morning clothes,
cut by a West End tailor, and his feather-weight grey felt hat testified
to the make of Scott.  His knitted silk tie, a combination of electric
blue and vivid yellow, was a discordant note.  Patrine was certain it
must have been the work of some other woman in Berlin.  The heavy flat
gold ring through which the ends were drawn was set with a ruby and two
diamonds, another false note that jarred her painfully.  But he was
looking strong and well and in admirable condition.  His blue eyes were
bright, his red hair and his tightly-rolled moustache glittered in the
sunshine, there was a bloom of perfect health upon his florid skin.

If Patrine did not look at von Herrnung, his eyes were less abstemious
with regard to her.  Under cover of their short red eyelashes, they
scrutinised her from time to time. There was unbridled curiosity in
their regard, and also a retrospective vanity, admiration, and
resentment as well. She rode the high horse.  She was hellishly sure of
herself. Sure of von Herrnung, it might be.  This passed in his mind as
he said to her:

"Do you know that this car has had the honour to carry the Emperor of
Germany?  When _Seine Majestät_ paid a visit to England in the year
1907, he used it every day."

Patrine returned indifferently:

"It seems to go smoothly."

Von Herrnung said, as the car obeyed every motion of his practised hands
upon the steering-wheel:

"It is a wonderful traveller.  It has been fitted with a Heinz motor,
three times more powerful to its weight than any other known
petrol-engine.  Some journeys, I can tell you, it has had with the All
Highest.  Travelling incognito, driven always by a—certain young
Prussian officer; then of Engineers—attached to the Personal Staff
specially for this work."

"I daresay you mean yourself?"

"That is a clever piece of guessing; I congratulate you, _gnädiges
Fräulein_.  Well, it is now no secret.  I do not object to admit having
been the young _Leutnant_ in the case. So now you know how I gained my
_flair_ for English scenery and my violent penchant for English beauty.
A weakness of which I am rather proud, since it is one the Emperor

The final sentence might have conveyed a jeer.  But Patrine was not
listening.  She called to her companion: "You are driving in the wrong
direction for Berkeley Square, but it does not matter.  Please put me
down just here at the corner of Harley Street.  I can leave this letter
at a house there instead of putting it in the pillar-post."

"You are not getting out, _gnädiges Fräulein_.  You are coming with me
to Hendon.  I have there a little business which will occupy an hour."
He added with a familiarity that stung, looking at the tense white
profile and the black brows knitted in anger: "You are yourself to blame
that I cannot part with you.  You are really as magnificent by day as by
evening—with your so-gloriously-coloured hair.  May I also congratulate
you on the effective costume?  Black and white are our Prussian colours.
I take that as a personal compliment."

"Take it as you like, it will not make it one."

"_Sehr gutig_.  I do not need telling.  When I want things I take them.
It is a habit of mine."

He spoke sheer, brutal truth.  Oh God! what of Patrine’s had he not
coveted and taken, only two horrible days ago. "So," he went on, "you
will have to post your letter.  I will stop at a _Postammt_ and drop it
in for you.  You see, I am greedy of your society.  At any moment I may
be recalled to Germany.  One must catch the Bird of Happiness and hold
it while one can.  Now tell me, is not that a pretty speech?"

"Extremely, but it does not alter the situation.  I have a particular
appointment.  I cannot go to Hendon with you."

"I have already told you that we are going there.  _Grosse Gott!_"  His
tone was savage.  "How is it that you are so confoundedly stubborn?  Do
you think such behaviour sensible—or wise?"

"I am certainly wiser than I was two days ago."

He slewed his head round to look at her with a greedy curiosity.  He saw
the lines of face and figure grow rigid, and her bare hands clench
themselves together in her lap.

He glanced at her ringed hand, then transferred his regard to his own
left hand, the glove upon which he had retained at the Club.  The soft
dressed _suéde_ bulged as though a bandage were concealed underneath.
She averted her eyes hastily as though she shunned some ugly, sickening,
spectacle.  He said:

"I see that you honour me by wearing my mascot.  The magpie pearl most
excellently becomes your beautiful hand, my dear!"

They had reached Regents Park Square and were turning into the Broad
Walk.  She plucked the ring from her bare finger, and held it out to
him, saying in a low tone:

"Please take it back!"

"I am to take it back? ... You are in earnest?"

She repeated her words, holding out the bauble.  He released his gloved
left hand from the steering-wheel to take it.  His eyes were on the road
ahead and his face was hard as pink stone.  But she heard him give a
little sigh of relief as he slipped the ring into an inside coat-pocket.
He said, as though to excuse the sigh:

"It was given me in April, when I made my raid on Paris from Hanover,
landing my _Albatros_ once only during two days’ flight.  The weather
was magnificent.  My engine gave no trouble.  That is why I call the
ring my mascot, you understand.  Now that it has been worn by you, it is
more precious than when I first received it.  Whenever I look at it, it
will speak to me of you."

"Don’t let it!"

"Why should it not speak of you?  Isis!  My heart’s Queen!"

"I have told you—don’t revolt me with—piffle of that kind.  And don’t
touch me, unless you want me to jump out of the car!"

A voice that he barely knew had issued from the face she turned on him—a
face all violet shadows and haggard drawn lines, under the burning
splendour of the dead beech-leaf hair.  She vibrated like an electrified
wire, and round her pale pinched mouth and about her blue-veined temples
were little points of moisture, fine and glittering as diamond-dust.

"Am I to understand that my touch is unpleasant to you? That you are
angry with me?  That you do not love me any more?"


She laughed out harshly, hugely disconcerting him.

"Lady Wathe said at that Grand Prix night dinner in Paris that you were
without a sense of humour.  But you must have a grain or so—to talk of
love to me!"

She turned her face away, and the exquisite beauty of her small white
ear appealed to him provokingly.  He ground his teeth.  He could have
thrown his arm about her, and crushed the tall, full, womanly figure
against him.  How superb she was in her mood of hate.  The strapped-up
wound in his left hand was throbbing and smarting, just as when she had
writhed her head free from his furious kisses and bitten him to the

He had made her pay richly for her bite.  He hugged himself as he
remembered....  Now the sting of desire was renewed in him and he eyed
her with greediness. Presently he stooped and said in her ear,

"Let us be friends!  Dine with me at the Rocroy to-night.  We will have
a box at the Alhambra, and sup again at the Upas.  Say you will come,
loved one!  Will you not, Patrine?"


"No?  But I think you mean Yes!  Do you not?"

"I have said No!  Is that not enough?"

"You are mad!" he blustered at her—"mad as a March hare!"

She answered him:

"I have been mad, but I am sane now and I stay so."

He said scoffingly:

"You may not always remain as you are now!"

If he launched a poisoned dart, its meaning glanced aside from her.

"Shall you not write to me when I am back in Germany? Not one line?  Not
one single word?  Yet I have a few little notes from you that I
particularly value...."

"Make the most of them.  I shall write no more."  And suddenly her hate
and loathing of him reached boiling point and ran over.  "My God!  Can’t
you understand that I ask nothing better than never to see nor hear of
you again!"

"_Grossartig_!  You are hellishly conciliatory."  His voice was thick
and shook with anger.  His smile mocked and the look in his eyes was
hateful as he pursued in a tone that was now quite gentle and purring:
"Just think a bit, my dear! Because—to burn one’s boats behind one—that
is not prudent at all!"

She did not answer, and he drove on to Hendon, planning fresh assaults
upon this unconquerable woman’s pride.

                             *CHAPTER XXV*

                          *THREE MEN IN A CAR*

When the yellow Darracq car turned in under the archway that advertised
Fanshaw’s Flying School in three-foot capitals, the name revived no
associations in the mind of Patrine.  She had never visited the
aërodrome upon an afternoon in the mid-week, when as in the present
instance practice and instruction were being carried on.  The cafés, no
longer crowded by smart people, were thinly patronised by bronzed young
men in overalls, not innocent of lubricating medium, thirstily drinking
ginger swizzle or sucking iced-lemon squashes through yellow straws.
Business-looking middle-aged men discussed the market-prices of steels
and timbers, dope and fabrics, over bitter beer and ham-sandwiches,
while experimenting amateurs, male and female, discussed in loud,
relieved voices the experiences of the premier flight.  These, having
been previously warned not to experiment upon a crowded system, were now
ravenously putting in the solid, three-course lunches they had foregone.

It was a perfect July day, hot and blue and green and golden.  To the
nor’-west, you glimpsed the elms and oaks and beeches of Boreham Wood,
westward the chestnuts of Bushey and Stanmore in fullest summer foliage.
The hawthorns of New Barnet were already browning in the sun. Hill and
common were plumy with the brake-fern.  Heather and ling were purpling
into bloom.

Still looking westwards, you snatched a glimpse of Windsor. Eastwards, a
diamond set in emeralds, was the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.  Across the
whitish-grey scarp of Highgate and the verdant shoulder of heathy
Hampstead you saw the dun-coloured haze that is the breath of London,
the huge, black, formidable and formless monster, as, sprawling on her
ancient River, she keeps her envied place in the Sun.

At the café end of Fanshaw’s enclosure the Frogged Roumanian String
Orchestra were playing the "Dance Rhapsody" of Delius.  From a rival
establishment came the brazen strains of a German band in a
death-wrestle with ragtime.  Behind a straggling crowd of visitors,
where the cars that had brought them were parked in a double row, von
Herrnung stopped the yellow Darracq, leaned across Patrine’s unwilling
knees and opened the car-door.

As Patrine was getting out, a large hand in a white leather glove was
thrust forwards for her assistance.  The owner of the hand was a
square-faced, fair-haired, soldierly-looking servant of the somewhat
hybrid type that has replaced the carriage-groom.  He wore a dark blue
livery overcoat with silver braid upon collar, belt, and
shoulder-straps, black knee-boots, and a white topped cap with silver
braid, a shiny black peak and an enamel front badge in black, white, and
red.  Looking past Patrine, he saluted in military fashion and spoke to
von Herrnung in German, of which language Patrine possessed a

"Will the _Herr Hauptmann_ speak to the _Herrschaft_? Upon business.
_Er ist sehr wichtig_."

Von Herrnung, at the first sound of the messenger’s voice, had stiffened
to rigidity.  He glanced over his shoulder in the direction pointed out
by the big hand in the white glove, and answered:

"Say to the _Herrschaft_ that I come!"

The groom vanished.  Von Herrnung jumped out of the yellow Darracq and
went quickly over to the machine that had been indicated, a large,
superbly-finished F.I.A.T. touring-car of the landau-limousine type,
enamelled dark blue with a narrow silver line of finish.  The top was
open. A white-capped chauffeur in dark blue and silver livery sat
immovable at the steering-wheel, and three men, only one of whom was
plainly visible to Patrine, occupied the roomy body of the car.

The visible man, sitting in the forward seat with his back to the motor,
his baldness topped, in deference to the weather, with a white felt
Newmarket, was a long-bodied, broad-shouldered personage, certainly over
seventy; clean-shaven, with staring eyes of light grey tinged with
bilious yellow, and skin of a prevailing yellow-grey doughiness, with a
huge wart in the middle of the cheekbone on the side next to Patrine.
His clothes were of yellowish-grey like his eyes and skin, his linen had
a yellow line in it and a huge, crumpled vest of buff nankeen threw into
relief a flaming crimson satin necktie confined within bounds by a flat
jewelled ring.  He had the air of an old actor of character parts, or of
a libertine monk who has foregone the cord and cowled habit.  Of the two
men sitting facing him little could be seen beyond the peak of a
gold-banded white yachting-cap pulled rather low over a bronzed and
rather aquiline profile with an upward-turned moustache and
slightly-grizzled beard of reddish-brown, and a Homburg straw with a
broad black ribbon and a slouched brim, overshadowing the face of the
man who sat on White Cap’s left hand. An astute and cunning face, his;
long and sallow, with narrow, blinking eyes, a drooping nose, and a
drooping black moustache.  With this its owner played constantly,
twisting and pulling it with a delicate white hand that wore a diamond
solitaire.  He never looked up, when addressed by either of his
companions, but raised his eyes to the speaker, and pivoted, without
lifting his head.

Von Herrnung’s friends were nothing to Patrine, and von Herrnung’s
person was by now intolerable, yet her eyes unwillingly followed the
tall, soldierly figure as he drew himself up, clicked his heels and
uncovered.  A brown hand went up to the peak of the white yachting-cap,
the wearers of the straw Homburg and the felt Newmarket slightly raised
their hats.  Von Herrnung did not speak first, he waited bareheaded to
be spoken to.  When the door of the big blue car was opened by the
servant at an imperious signal from the sallow man, von Herrnung got
inside, and sat down beside the personage with the wart on his
cheek,—leaning forwards deferentially to be addressed by the bearded
wearer of the white yachting-cap, who made great play with a brown right
hand that sported a heavy gold curb-chain watch-bracelet.  Once the hand
clenched and shook in vivacious threat or warning, very close to von
Herrnung’s handsome nose.  That made Patrine laugh, and instantly she
was angry with herself for laughing.  She put up her long-sticked
sunshade, turned her back upon the blue F.I.A.T. car and moved away
towards the part of the enclosure where the visitors sat or promenaded,
drawing eyes as she went with her spangled silver headgear twinkling in
the sunshine, and its black cock’s plume waving over her strangely
coloured hair.

So changed, so changed.  She was sensible of an alteration even in her
gait and gestures.  A sickness of the soul weighed on her body as though
she walked in invisible fetters of lead.  The free space, the fresh air,
seemed to yield no physical stimulus.  She had bitten deep into the
apple of Knowledge, and found bitterness and ashes at the core.

                             *CHAPTER XXVI*

                            *A PAIR OF PALS*

Among a dozen pairs of masculine eyes that followed the gallant womanly
figure, crowned by the plumed hat of silver spangles and displayed in
the frank unreticence of fashion by the semi-transparent sheath of
glistening white, a pair very blue, very shiningly alert and interested,
drew nearer until the elongated shadow of a small boy in Scout’s uniform
mingled upon the sunlit turf with the longer shadow of Patrine.

His thumping heart had said to him: "You know her!"  It was Pat and yet
not Pat.  Her tall, rounded figure.  Her walk.  The same face—and
another woman’s hair.  The white gown and the long stole of black cock’s
feathers he had seen before, and the hat had previously fascinated him.
He had asked Pat if it were not made of the twinkly stuff with which
they covered the Bobby-dazzlers on Christmas trees?  She had cried
"Yes!" and assured him that she would always hereafter call it her
"Bobby-dazzler chapper." ... And his Cousin Irma, whom Bawne secretly
abominated, had said it was too bad to talk costermonger slang to the
child.  "_The child_." ... A man must be ready to pardon an insult from
the unpunchable female.  But Bawne found himself wishing that Cousin
Irma had been a boy.

He loved Pat.  You had to love a person who could keep secrets as
faithfully as Dad or Mother, and play tennis and hockey better than a
great many grown-up fellows.  Bowl you out at cricket, too, middle bail,
before you could wink. She could cycle all day without getting knocked
up, and swim a mile, easily.  For these reasons Bawne knew he loved her.
But he loved her most for the reasons that he did not understand.


He had screwed up his courage to touch his crusher felt and speak the
name, but the tall lady with the electrifying hair did not seem to hear.
Her long eyes looked at him in a blind way without seeing him.  He had
never kissed this frozen, stranger’s face.

"I thought you knew me!  I most awfully beg your pardon!" he stammered,
in scarlet anguish, and the dull eyes suddenly came to life, and the
stiff lips smiled:

"It’s Bawne.  My sweet, I’m glad!  How did you come here?"

"Dad brought me because he’d promised," the boy said joyously as they
shook hands.

"Where is Uncle Owen?"

"Over there."  Bawne pointed to two men talking apart beyond the
straggling line of spectators, and Patrine recognised the great frame
and scholarly stoop of the Doctor, standing with his side-face towards
her, a half-consumed cigar in the corner of his mouth, and his stick, a
weighty ivory-topped Malacca, loosely gripped in both hands behind his

"And the man he is talking to?  Why—of course!  It’s Sir Roland—how is
it I didn’t recognise him?"

"The Chief Scout!"  Bawne’s tone was one of incredulous wonder.  "But
you couldn’t have forgotten _him_!  It—isn’t possible!"

Nor even to a stranger did he appear a personality to be easily
forgotten, the bright-eyed, falcon-beaked, middle-aged man, whose
feather-weight crusher felt was worn at an inimitable angle, and whose
slight, active figure set off his well-cut morning suit of thin blue
serge in a way to arouse envy in a military dandy of twenty-five.

"You see," Bawne explained, "_he_ was talking business with Father, so I
just took myself out of the way."  He added: "They hadn’t told me to,
but they might have forgotten.  And so"—the big word came out of the
childish mouth quaintly—"I acted on my initiative—you understand?"

"I understand."  The formal handshake once over, their fingers had not
separated.  She held in her large, strong, womanly palm the hand that
was little, and hard, and boyish.  It squeezed her fingers, and the
squeeze was an apology.  It said:

"I’d like you to have kissed me if there hadn’t been lots of people
looking.  For, of course, you know I love you, Pat!"

"And I love you, Bawne.  We’ll always love each other, whatever
happens," said the answering pressure.  Her spoken utterance was:

"So these are your holidays! ... How did you leave them all at
Charterhouse?  And—are you still tremendous pals with young Roddy

He said, with a naive, adorable gravity:

"Boys don’t squabble like girls—and Wrynche is a frightfully decent
fellow.  We passed together from Shell into Under Fourth, and we’ve
promised always to stand by each other!"

"Good egg!  And now, how is it you’re here?  Has Uncle Owen given in at
last about the flying?"

"Really and truly!  Man alive!"—Bawne’s characteristic expletive—"I’ve
been up to-day in the air-’bus and—wasn’t it first-class!"


"Honour!  Twice round the aërodrome with the Instructor—and presently
I’m to have a longer flight with Mr. Sherbrand in his monoplane."

"’Mr. Sherbrand’ ..." Patrine repeated rather vaguely. "Sherbrand" had
somehow a ring that was familiar. Bawne explained:

"He’s a great friend of Father’s.  He’s splendid.  A regularly topping

"And you’ve actually flown?"

"I’ve flewed—and I mean to go on with it."  He repeated the assurance
more sedately: "It’s the profession I have chosen.  They say you’ve got
to begin young.  And my legs wobbled and the ground rocked a bit when I
got down on it. But I wasn’t air-sick at all."

"_Air-sick_....  Are people...?"

Bawne said from the pedestal of superior knowledge:

"Oh, aren’t they just, like anything!  The Calais-Dover
steamer-crossing’s nothing to it sometimes—the Instructor told me."

Patrine laughed.  The latest circulating-library novel, _Love in the
Clouds_, had omitted to mention this fact. The heroine had donned an
aviator’s cap and pneumatic jacket, and "leapt nimbly on board" the
aëroplane in half a gale of wind.  As the machine dipped and rose
gracefully upon the heaving element that cradled it, Enid had
experienced merely a delicious exhilaration.  Then a crisp moustache had
brushed her rosy ear.  The voice of Hubert, attuned to deepest melody of
passion, had murmured in the shell-like organ of hearing: "Little girl.
At last I have you! ... Mine, mine, my bride of the swan-path!—mine for
ever and aye!"

Bawne continued, innocently discounting further statements on the part
of the author of _Love in the Clouds_:

"He told me before we went up, you know.  Of course, when you’re flying
you can’t hear anything but the racket of the propeller.  It goes
roaring through you till your bones buzz, and the very ends of your
teeth hum.  So the other man has to yell at you through a trumpet, or
write to you on bits of paper, unless he’s switched off the engine for
diving, and then you don’t feel like talking—that’s if you’re a
beginner, you know....  But man alive! it’s splendid. You must try it,

She declared, laughingly:

"While a single flight costs a brace of my hard-earned guineas, the
sport is not for me!  Why haven’t I got a pal like your wonderful Mr.
Sherbrand?  I’m getting envious—you lucky infant, you!"

It didn’t hurt to be called an infant by Pat, because she never would
have done it in a stranger’s hearing.  And it was ripping to have her
here, sharing his hour of joy.

He told her: "Father brought me here as a reward for making a model
aëroplane.  Reminds me!—I’ve got to tell you all about that.  But it’s
only a toy and this is the Real Thing.  There’s nothing worth having in
the whole world," added the unconscious philosopher "unless it’s real
and true!"

"Am I not real?" Patrine asked, squeezing his shoulder.

"Now you are!"  He said it with an effort of candour. "But when I saw
you a minute ago, I wasn’t—quite sure."  He glanced up at her and asked
shyly: "Why are you different since you have been away in Paris?"

"Different, how different?"  She whipped her hand from his shoulder.
Her black eyebrows knitted, and her face stiffened into the strange mask
that had puzzled him, under the scrutiny of his clear blue eyes.  "Do I
seem changed?" she queried.  And Bawne answered:

"A little.  I was afraid at first you were somebody else, because of"—he
said it shyly—"because of your hair."

"My hair?" she repeated blankly, and then said awkwardly: "The air of
Paris did that, darling, but it will soon be its old colour again!"

"Will it ever be just like it was before?" asked Bawne, looking
innocently up at her, and something broke in Patrine’s heart just then.
She gave a sudden gasping sigh, and a sudden spate of tears rolled over
her thick underlids, streamed down her pale cheeks, and fell upon her
broad bosom, heaving under its thin covering of filmy white voile.

"Pat!  You’re—crying!"  Bawne had never yet seen his friend weep, and he
was wrung between pity and bewilderment.  "Who has vexed you?  Who has
been hurting you?" he begged, and she answered brokenly:

"No one! ... Someone....  It doesn’t matter!" adding: "Would you punch
him, if anyone had—done as you say?"

"_Wouldn’t_ I?"

"My sweet!"  Her arm went round his slight, square shoulders.  She doted
on the little amber freckles on his pure, healthy skin, the little
drake’s tail of silky red-brown hair at the nape of his brown neck, the
half-shy, half-bold curve of his mouth as he smiled, the blue sparkle of
his eye glancing sidewise up at her.  She found in the pure warmth and
sweetness of the slight young body leaning against her, a healing,
comforting balm.

"Why aren’t you my little brother, Bawne?" she said, hugging him closer.
He answered after an instant’s thought:

"If my mother could be your mother too, it would be jolly!  Not unless!

He was not going to take on Mildred for anybody. Patrine sighed

"That’s what I used to cry for when I was a little pig-tailed girl, my
sonny.  More than anything I wanted to belong to Aunt Lynette.  But
she’s so young—only thirty-three.  She couldn’t be my mother."

"No."  His eyes considered her face gravely.  "Of course not.  You’re
far too old.  How old are you, Cousin Pat?"

"How old am I?"  A shudder went through her.  "Nineteen in August.  And
I feel about a hundred and one."

"That’s ’cos you’re not well!"  His eyes were anxious and a little
pucker showed between his reddish eyebrows. "You’re not going to be
ill—are you?" he asked in alarm.

"Not I!"  She murmured it caressingly in her deep, soft voice.  "My pet,
don’t worry.  Everything’s all right with me!—perfectly all right and
O.K.!  Only talk to me. Don’t let me keep on thinking.  Things are never
so—bally rotten if you can stop brooding over them."

Why did she look like that?  What had somebody done to hurt her?  His
boyish hand clenched, the thumb well turned in over the knuckles.
Instinctively Bawne knew that the Enemy, who had stamped that dreadful
look of frozen misery on the face of his beloved, white as ivory or old
snow in its strange setting of flaming tresses—was of his own sex.

All the while, ever since Patrine had entered the gates of Panshaw’s,
the song of the air-screw had not been absent from her ears.  The
tractor of the practice-engine roared fitfully, like a tiger being
prodded in its den by a spiteful keeper’s meat-fork.  The propellers of
the double-engined passenger-buses kept up a steady droning as Fanshaw’s
pilots followed the pointing arms of the red, white, and blue pylons
marking the limits of the air-circuit, or were silent as the machines
dropped to earth within the huge white circles where a giant T indicated

This was not a show day when visitors’ half-crowns rattled unceasingly
into the boxes at the turnstile.  The rows of green-painted chairs
behind the whitewashed iron railings of the spectators’ enclosure were
but thinly patronised by friends of people taking passenger-flights.  No
man with a megaphone announced events forthcoming or imminent.  No white
flag fell for the start, no pistol cracked signifying the conclusion of
a race.

Three men occupied the Judge’s stand behind the Committee enclosure.
One, small and dapper, in a frock-coat and topper, kept his eye on what
was probably a stop-watch.  Another, stout, bearded, and straw-hatted,
was absorbedly gazing at the sky through a big pair of Zeiss binoculars.
The third, in the uniform of a commissionaire, was an employé of the
School.  No one manifested any particular interest in them or their
occupation.  The sparse general public were not enlightened as to the
reason of their presence on the Judge’s stand.

"Talk," Patrine said, clinging to Bawne, her slender plank in moral
shipwreck.  "Tell me what Sir Roland and the Doctor are waiting to see.
What is that thin man doing with the stop-watch and the note-book?  And
the fat gentleman beside him, who never leaves off staring at the sky
through those big field-glasses.  Nothing is billed to happen—there are
no numbers up on the pylons—yet something seems to be going on!"


The boy broke into a little gurgle of excited laughter, and began to
dance up and down under the arm that rested on his neck.

"_Rather_!  Didn’t you know?  How funny!  Why, man alive, we’re waiting
for _him_!"

"For him?"

"For Mr. Sherbrand.  Father’s friend.  The Flying Man I’ve told you

"Mr.——  Where is he?" Patrine asked vaguely, looking all about her.  In
the tumult of her thoughts the name that had been upon a crumpled card
suggested no association with that so rapturously uttered by the boy.

"There!"  Bawne pointed upwards with another of the excited laughs.
"Carrying out a hovering-test.  The man with the stop-watch is timing
him, and the other with the binnocs is observing him.  He’s French—no
end of an official swell!  The French Government sent him," went on the
boy, with infinite relish, "to see Mr. Sherbrand test his invention.  He
thought they didn’t catch on, but the hoverer has fetched them.  If he
hovers for twenty minutes, ten thousand feet up, his fortune’s made!—I
heard a fellow say so to the Instructor.  Man alive! isn’t it topping
that you and I should be here to-day!"

                            *CHAPTER XXVII*

                       *SIR ROLAND TELLS A STORY*

While yet the Bird of War hovered invisible at ten thousand feet of
altitude, and the lungs of the men aboard her toiled and laboured, and
foam gathered about their nostrils and lips, Saxham stood talking with
the man who in his eyes ranked above all others, the tried and trusty
friend of fourteen years.

In those unforgettable months of the Siege of Gueldersdorp you might
have noticed a crow’s foot or so at the corner of the Chief’s keen
falcon-eyes.  To-day, their hazel brightness undiminished, they looked
at Life from a network of fine criss-crossed lines.  But Time, the
spider, had spun no web in the fine alert brain, and the man’s heart was
free from crow’s feet or wrinkles.  Fresh and evergreen, it was as it
would always be, an oasis of kindness for the downhearted or weary,
watered by the twin wells of sympathy and enthusiasm.  He said, speaking
to Saxham of the invisible Sherbrand:

"I wish we had a million like him!"

Saxham answered:

"I wish we had several millions.  He is a fine, energetic type.  A bit
of a hero-worshipper—a bit of a philosopher, a bit of a stoic: ’_He hath
seen men rise to authority without envy, and schooled himself to endure
adversity, that he might bear himself the better when his time should
come to rule._’"

"His time is coming, or I am no judge of capability.  And you quoted
from the _Encheiridion_ of Epictetus, I think? I’ve always found good
reading-meat in that and the _Discourses_.  Used to carry a little
sixpenny copy about in my pocket, until I wore it to rags."

"I have often seen and noted its raggedness, and its uncompromising

"It was negroid in complexion before the Relief of Gueldersdorp.
Perhaps you won’t be astonished when I tell you I have got it now."  The
Chief’s smiling eyes narrowed in laughter.  "My wife has bound it
gorgeously, and with other volumes of my Siege library, it occupies a
special and most sacred shelf near my writing-desk at home."

He went on:

"This fine fellow Sherbrand is an old correspondent of mine.  He would
say I might tell you the story, and I think it’s worth hearing, in a
way.  It must be eight years ago, when he would be about seventeen, that
he wrote to me from an engineering college at Newcastle, to say he had
read some papers of mine on the subject of scouting, and proposed—if I
thought it would not be presumption on his part—save the mark!—to enrol
and organise a troop on the lines laid down.  He wanted a definite code
of Scout law to work on, and Rules and so forth, all of which I supplied
him, you may be sure.  Busy as I was drilling and cub-licking the North
British Territorials, I couldn’t find time to spare to run up and see
the boy.  So he commandeered a holiday and motor-cycled to Headquarters.
Rode all through one night in pelters of rain, and caught me in my 5
A.M. tub."

"He meant business."

"Business—and it was up to me to encourage such grittiness and
enthusiasm.  So I ordered coffee for two, and bacon and eggs for half a
dozen, and when I had fed him I talked.  My book wasn’t published, but I
lent him some proof-sheets.  He thanked me, but before he took them he
had to disburden his mind."

The fine sunburnt hand went thoughtfully to the grizzled moustache, worn
rather longer than of old.

"He had got something on his mind.  He had been reading that old
bogey-book, _Hales on Mental Heredity_, and the theory of the
transmission of base or criminal tendencies from the parents to the
children, had haunted him night and day.  He said to me, standing up
before me, looking about as long and thin as a fathom of pump-water: ’My
father was dismissed from the Army in War-time, for not backing up his
C.O.  Is there a kink in _my_ brain or a bacillus lying waiting in _my_
body that will one day make a slacker of me?"

Saxham’s square face was ashen, but the Chief’s eyes were elsewhere.

"And you told him——?"

"I told him, that whilst physical disease and deformity are
transmissible from the unhealthy parents to their unlucky offspring, no
sensible Christian regarded the theory of inherited vice or crime, as
anything but the most pernicious lie that the devil ever invented to
spread as a net for the catching of bodies and souls.  That seemed to
buck him up!"

"I do not doubt it!" said Saxham.  He breathed more freely, and his face
had regained its natural hue.

"I reminded him," went on the Chief, "that our Army and our Fleet are
indebted for thousands of the finest men, morally and physically
speaking, to Reformatories and Industrial Schools and Homes.  ’Think of
the character borne by Barnardo’s boys,’ I told him, ’and grind the
scorpion lie to pulp under your boot-heel, whenever and wherever you
find it cocking up its damnable tail!’"

"So he went back," said Saxham, "cheered and strengthened by your
sympathy, as—other men have been before now!"

"So he went back to the College, fortified by my bit of nervous English,
and worked at his troop for all he was worth.  Raked in seventy in the
first month, and kept on raking.  He is dandy at drill and organisation,
is Sherbrand.  When he left the College they mustered three hundred
strong."  The speaker struck his stick upon the turf and said
emphatically: "How it grows!—how the Movement spreads and gathers and
ramifies!  Do you know Saxham, that there are moments in my life when I
am tempted to be proud.  When rank upon rank of young, fresh, fearless
faces with bright eyes are turned to me. When thousands of active,
lithe, healthy young bodies run out into the open and rally about the
Chief Scout."

There was a mist in the bright eyes that his manliness was not ashamed

"Years ago, when the officer in command of a certain beleaguered
garrison was doing his best to defend it, a great Fear came upon him in
the watches of a particularly anxious night.  Perhaps you will guess
what I mean, Saxham? The man had not slept for more weeks than I like to
remember, and the hours of rest in the day-time were hot-eyed staring
horrors of insomnia.  He was—up against it!  The shrunken lids would not
shut down over his bursting eyeballs, and his jaws were clamped so that
he could not yawn. Then, on this night, his Fear rose up and mopped and
mowed at him, and it had the kind of face that madhouse doctors and
keepers know.  He wasn’t ordinarily a ’fearful man,’ like Kipling’s
immortal Bengali, but now he was horribly, sickeningly afraid!"

"I guessed it," said Saxham.  "I realised what you were suffering, but I
did not dare to hint my knowledge to you. There was no danger of
madness.  But you were certainly on the verge of mental and physical

"And being in such desperate case," said the other, "I prayed to God in
my extremity.  I promised Him if He would help me to carry out my duty
to Him, as to my earthly superiors, and those men and women and children
who looked to me as their protector and guide, that I would one day, if
He spared me, build Him a big Temple, made of the little temples that
are the work of His Hands."

"And to-day the Temple is a reality!"

"A grand reality.  East, West, North, and South, it spreads and widens
and towers.  It is built of boys. Clean-limbed, clean-minded,
self-respecting fellows, scorning vices, eager for service, sensitive in
Honour, chivalrous, patriotic, keen for Truth and Right.  It frightens
me, Saxham, when I think what a leaven is working through these boys of
mine, potential fathers of sons in the ripeness of Time, for the
ultimate regeneration of this vicious, degenerate world.  It makes me
understand how near old Coleridge got to the live heart of things when
he wrote the _Ancient Mariner_.  The service of Almighty God is the love
of your fellow-man.  But why to me, and not to another worthier, should
God have given this wonderful, glorious thing to bring about? ..."

"Because you are worthy of doing His work for Him. Has He not used you
as His instrument in my own case?  Should I not own to this, I who owe
everything to you?"

The other laid a hand on the great shoulder of the Dop Doctor.

"If ever you owed me anything, Saxham, you paid me long ago!"

He was silent a moment and said in a lighter tone: "I am not quite clear
yet as to how you met my whilom Scoutmaster."

"Our acquaintance dates from a cross-Channel flight he made in the end
of June."

"I know."  The Chief prodded the turf with his walking-stick. "A French
pilot-officer of their Service Aëronautique, a certain Commandant
Raymond, who flew here in the contest for the Ivor International Cup in
May, had heard of Sherbrand and his inventions from Lamond of the
Central Flying School.  He took a shine to the aërial stabiliser and got
his Chiefs to give it a trial.  That came off on the Grand Prix Sunday,
when Paris went wild over the Sarajevo affair."

"And scenting War in the air," said Saxham, "Sherbrand promptly took
wing for England without waiting for the decision of the judges who were
present at the test."

"Did he?  He has keen scent."

"Better now," said Saxham laughing, "than when he came to me—on the
recommendation of an old patient—suffering from an aggravated form of
nasal catarrh.  He had had it at intervals for years, and suspected it
to be owing to what he described, in the language of the
engineering-shop, as "a defect in the air-intake."  He proved to be
right—and I sent him into the Hospital, where Berry Boyle performed a
slight minor operation which removed the trouble, and left him capitally
fit.  Then, when he came out of the Hospital, he found a letter from the
French Consul waiting at his office——"

The Chief interpolated:

"Ah yes.  The aërial stabiliser had gained the suffrages of Messieurs
the Chiefs of the Aëronautique Française.  I hope M. Jourdain’s report
to his Government will induce them to buy the patent.  For, judging by
the interest that the representatives of another Power seem to take

The Chief broke off.  The smiling lines about his eyes and mouth had
vanished as he queried: "Who is the lady my Scout over there is
squiring?  A superbly-shaped young woman, with hair of the fashionable
terra-cotta shade.  But for the hair, I should have said it was your
niece, Patrine."

Saxham’s eyes followed the direction of the Chief’s glance. He said, and
his face looked hard as a mask of stone:

"Your memory for faces is correct as usual.  The lady with the
terra-cotta hair is my late brother’s daughter, Patrine."

The Chief’s familiar whistle filled in a space of silence, with a
pensive little fragment of Delius’ _Spring Song_, while Saxham’s frown
grew deeper and his jaw thrust out more angrily.  Then the well-known
voice said:

"I am sorry that Miss Patrine has been tempted to follow the fashion.
But I regret still more her choice of friends! I refer to the German
officer in whose company your niece arrived here, in a yellow Darracq
car, about half-an-hour ago."  The speaker made sure, with a rapid
glance to right and left, that no listener was standing near them, and
added: "I know that I may trust you as myself in any private or official
matter.  Between ourselves frankly, I am here to-day for the purpose
of—keeping an eye on this particular man!"

The Doctor’s vivid blue eyes darted rapier-points at the other, from
caves that had suddenly been dug about them. The General went on:

"The man himself is no common spy, though he may on occasion act as an
agent or post-box for Secret Intelligence communications.  He is an
extraordinarily able young officer, a squadron captain in their Field
Flying Service, with some astonishing records to his credit, though he
was an Engineer Lieutenant in 1907 when he came to England as
chauffeur-officer attached to the Kaiser’s Personal Staff. For a
comprehensible reason his superiors desired him to improve his knowledge
of the topography of the British Isles.  He certainly did so, but"—the
keen eyes twinkled—"the record runs accomplished by von Herrnung with
the All Highest as passenger, were not unattended, or unobserved by us.
That he is well-born and well-looking is undeniable, and these
advantages, with other social gifts, may easily attract your niece, like
any other of Eve’s daughters. But to say the least it is inadvisable
that she should encourage the advances of this man, or of any other
German officer,—when the next forty-eight hours may see Britain and
Germany at grips in War."

"That is your opinion?"

"It is my plain, unvarnished opinion, speaking as one of those who are
admitted behind the scenes.  Not that I am infallible, but the Signs and
the Tokens all lead one way."  He lifted his lean brown hand and pointed
eastwards.  "For years they have been making ready, but now—what a
frenzy of ordered preparation.  What secret councils, what reiteration
of orders, what accumulations of stores, what roaring of electric
furnaces—I’d give my little finger to know what chemical they’re making
in huge bulk at the Badische Anilin-und-Soda Fabrik, and hundreds of
other dye and bleaching-powder works in Germany and Austria!—every one
backed up by the German Imperial State or the Dual Monarchy on the
understanding that at the signal, they are to turn to and turn out—what?
Benzine for phenol, phenol for picric, and toluene for Super-Explosive,
that’s understood.  But this stuff puzzles me.  Do you see the Senile
Arc in my eyes yet, Saxham?  It must be that I’m getting old!"

He smiled his whimsical smile and went on:

"A day or two after the burial of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his
morganatic partner, murdered by some fanatics among the Greater Serbs, a
huge majority among the German military and naval officers doing duty in
their Colonies, or on political service in Africa, were recalled by
Wireless.  Leave has been stopped.  Rolling-stock in inconceivable
masses is being concentrated on the greater strategic railways, while
the official and semi-official Press prates and gabbles of peace and
neighbourly goodwill!"  He shrugged.  "Things were safer when they
yelled and foamed in convulsions of Anglophobia.  Then one doubted....
Now one is sure! ... Ah, I thought I wasn’t mistaken. Here’s Sherbrand
coming down!"

                            *CHAPTER XXVIII*

                       *THE GOD FROM THE MACHINE*

The dazzling turquoise of the sky was now streaked with milky bands of
haziness.  Dappled golden-white cloudlets at the zenith made what is
known as mackerel sky.  Trails of rounded stratus floated low in the
east and south-east. Long shadows of hangars, pylons, semaphore and
electric searchlight-stations, stretched over the turf from westwards,
crossed by perambulatory shadows of people moving about. These became
stationary, betokening that popular interest was newly awakened.
Umbrellas and sticks flourished towards the sky.  Bawne gave a little
crow of delight as the whitish-brown, shining shape of the monoplane
dived down out of the empyrean, travelling with a bold, beautiful
swooping glide that took away the gazer’s breath.

"Look, oh look!" Bawne gasped, leaning against Patrine. Now her tardy
interest was genuinely awakened.  Reaching the end of its glide, the
monoplane had regained the horizontal position.  As she flattened out
and hung well-nigh motionless in mid-air with the sunlight beating on
and drenching her fragile, lacy structure, she was a thing of beauty and
of wonder.  The humming of her tractor came to you mingled with the
buzzing of her gyroscopic hoverer, like the incessant vibration of
living, sentient wings.

She seemed to tire of hanging between earth and heaven, ceased buzzing,
tilted a wing sharply and began to frolic after it as a kitten runs
after its tail on a hearthrug, or as a swallow gambols on a chase after
gnats, always turning towards the West, whilst her greyish shadow danced
and skipped upon the gold-white cloud-surfaces to eastwards a long way
below her, like the ghost of an aëroplane.  All the time she was
gobbling up distance, steadily descending. She presently reversed her
sun-worshipping tactics, dived, and spiralled, banking, from west to
east.  You saw plainly the helmeted heads and slightly hunched shoulders
of the pilot at the controls and the mechanic strapped in the forward

Soon she hovered again and swooped, so suddenly that Patrine nipped
Bawne’s shoulder, saying "Great Scott!" under her breath.  Another long
sweeping glide brought her close to the green turf of the aërodrome.
Then, with an adroit flexing of the wing-tips, she balanced, flattened,
and landed lightly within the huge white circle, rocking a little on her
tyred wheels.

The man with the stop-watch checked the mechanism, the bearded man with
the big binoculars lowered and closed them, scribbled in a
memorandum-book and came down the judge’s stand.  The Bird of War’s
mechanic stayed in his place, the pilot unhitched his body-strap, pushed
up his goggled visor, threw a long leg over the fuselage and jumped
lightly to the ground.  He staggered as he reached it, recovered himself
and stood breathing quickly, as a man overcoming giddiness, or other
physical sensation of distress.

Tall, young, and lightly built, with long active limbs and a physique
suggestive of youth and courage and enterprise, as he stood motionless,
his eared and goggled cap now in hand, the play of sunlight upon his
thin brown waterproof gabardine and overalls made him look like a statue
of Mercury wrought in pale new bronze.  And with a lifting of her sick
heart as though it had suddenly spread wings, and soared into a region
of unlimited space and glorious freedom, Patrine recognised her Flying
Man of the Jardin des Milles Plaisirs.

From what airt, of what world unknown, did it blow, that cool, fragrant
wind that then and always heralded for Patrine his coming?  It took her
by surprise; lapped her delicately about; enveloped her from head to
foot in its pure invisible waves.  The hot, sore places in her heart
were bathed and healed, the deep caverns filled, the little thirsty
rock-pools set awash and brimming.  When the sough of it was no longer
in her ears or the tug and flutter of it among the folds of her
garments; when she ceased to be conscious of the cool resilient pressure
upon cheek and neck and forehead—her brief sweet hour of joy was over.
Sherbrand had gone away again.

"_Cela ira-t-il, monsieur?  Je suis prêt à faire une nouvelle
demonstration si vous n’êtes pas satisfait._"

His clear, strong voice speaking in laborious public school French gave
her a delicious shock of pleasure.  He was addressing the stout, bearded
Frenchman who, accompanied by the thinner man who had timed Sherbrand by
the stop-watch, now walked across the turf to shake the aviator’s hand.
As Sherbrand spoke, he drew a white handkerchief from the sleeve of his
gabardine and wiped from the corners of his mouth some little blobs of
foam, slightly bloodstained.  The stout, friendly Frenchman glanced at
him, and uttered an exclamation.  Sherbrand shook his head in vigorous
protest and laughed, repeating his offer to demonstrate again.  Upon
which the bearded man, who had also a moustache with thick, stiff waxed
ends, and wore a large checked-pattern summer suit with a white drill
waistcoat, a low collar and a necktie with flowing ends, and was topped
with a high-crowned straw hat that suggested Trouville in mid-season,
negatived the proposal with a vivacious gesture, pouring forth a stream
of words:

"_Au contraire, Monsieur, je suis convainçu que vous avez une idée
superbe.  Nous vous avons observé avec la lunette Zeiss, pendant votre
vol, et nous avons constaté le temps très soigneusement: vous avez
maintenu le bruit et la stabilité pendant cinq minutes de plus que les
vingt-cinq minutes stipulées.  Permettez moi comme une simple formalité
de voir votre altimètre?_"

"By all means!" Sherbrand returned.

They went back to the aëroplane together, and Sherbrand reached over and
unhooked the altimeter from a board in the pilot’s cockpit, and the
bearded man examined it, and then cordially shook hands.

"Within two days, at latest.  Possibly sooner!" Patrine heard the
straw-hatted, bearded gentleman say in English, pronounced with a strong
French accent.  "Believe me," he added, "I shall represent most strongly
the usefulness of your invention to the Chief of the État de l’Aviation.
_Au revoir, Monsieur, et encore mes félicitations!_"

Then he went away with the small dark man who had used the stop-watch,
and who carried the Zeiss binoculars slung in their case.

During this business interview Patrine had felt Bawne panting and
wriggling close beside her, like an excited, but well-mannered
fox-terrier waiting to be whistled for.  But Sherbrand, though he
glanced at the boy smilingly, had turned aside to engage in conversation
with Saxham, and the Chief Scout, whom Sherbrand saluted in orthodox
Scout fashion, flushing red under the clear sunburn that darkened his
fair skin.

"He’s one of Us!" Bawne whispered to Patrine, his own young face alight
with pleasure.  "He was Scoutmaster of a troop in the North, he told me,
and I know he must have been a splendid one.  He’s the kind of chap
who’d be prepared for anything.  Don’t you think he looks like that?"

Patrine did not answer.  She was feeling "cheap," as Lady Beauvayse
would have expressed it.  She had put the man out of her thoughts
because she had taken it for granted that Fanshaw’s instructor could not
be a gentleman.  Now, as she watched Sherbrand in conversation with the
elder man, his manner of quiet, well-bred deference, mingled with a
pleasant courtesy, showed her beyond all doubt that his place was above
the salt.

He had looked towards her, when he had smiled at Bawne, and his glance
had swept over her without recognition.  She would have known him
anywhere, while he——!  She had forgotten her preposterously-coloured

How sweet the breeze was, bringing from the west the smell of
strawberry-fields and red and white clover.  Yet she had not noticed it
until now.  Her mood had changed. She had put away the thing she most
hated to remember. She felt almost like the Patrine of two days ago.

"Miss Saxham!"

It was von Herrnung’s voice speaking behind her, and with a shock of
loathing horror she remembered all.  She turned to see his tall figure
approaching.  The first impression was that he was ill; the next, that
he was furiously angry.  His florid complexion had bleached to an ugly,
greenish pallor, even the blue of his eyes had faded to a curious lilac
hue.  He carried in his gloved left hand, and with evident care, a flat
strapped wallet of brown leather, fastened with two Bramah locks and a
lock-strap.  He said to Patrine in a jarring voice of resentment and

"I have been looking for you.  Could one not leave you for a minute but
you must go off by yourself?  _Sapperlot_! Whom has one here?  Where did
you pick up the boy?"

Her heart swelled as Bawne looked up at her in astonishment, then
transferred his stare to von Herrnung, puckering his brows in
disapproval of the rude, strange man.  She answered as calmly as was

"This is my cousin, Bawne Saxham, Count von Herrnung."

"Why did you leave me?" von Herrnung grumbled as Bawne stiffly saluted,
and she told him:

"Because I saw you occupied in conversation with your German friends."

"Women are incomprehensible creatures! ... How do you know that they
were German?  At any rate, whether they were or not, they have gone away
now!  You find me annoyed.  It is because they are—what shall I call
it?—perhaps a little exigent.  Now I will have a smoke.  I suppose you
do not mind?"

He had not freed his hand from the brown leather satchel to remove his
hat when he had mopped his perspiring forehead, with a big cambric
handkerchief scented with the _très persistent_ perfume that always
clung about his clothes. Nor did he relinquish it to help himself to a
cigar, but opened the gold case containing the weeds with the hand that
drew it from his pocket, extracted a cigar with his teeth, and returned
the case to his pocket; then produced a matchbox, opened it in the same
way, picked out a match, shut the box, and struck the match upon it,
saying to Bawne, as he blew out the first mouthful of smoke: "What do
you think of that, my fine fellow?  Should I not make a famous
one-handed man?"  But Bawne’s suffrages remained unwon, although the
dexterity of the thing had secretly pleased him. He remained doggedly
silent, scowling with his reddish-fair brows, thrusting out his chin.

"Should I not?  Tell me!" von Herrnung persisted. "Or is it that British
boys are cowards and afraid to answer when they are spoken to?"

"I am not afraid—of anything or anybody!"

Bawne reddened and looked the taunting big man between the eyes,
squarely.  The look added—_And least of all of anybody like you_!  He
went on:

"But I think it takes more than—that kind of being clever—to make a
famous man."

"_Nicht so schlimm!_" Von Herrnung nodded.  "But all the same these
little tricks are worth knowing.  You might be bound with ropes to a
post, or tree, or waggon by the enemy, and if he happened to have left
your matches on you—and you could get one hand free—there is no knot man
could tie that I could not wriggle myself out of!—you might burn the
rope and get away!  I did that once when I was a gunner-boy of seventeen
in South Africa——"

Von Herrnung stopped short.  Bawne asked simply, and with the same
straight look between the eyes:

"Did you fight with the Boers against us in the War?"

Von Herrnung did not seem to have heard.  He had caught the drift of a
sentence spoken by Sherbrand, who was answering to a question of the
Chief Scout.

"Oh yes!  I live here—have quarters over Mrs. Dunlett’s restaurant—you
could communicate with me practically at any time.  We’ve the ’phone and
a private telegraph-office, and the wireless—under the usual licence
from the Postmaster-General."

He pointed towards the well-known tall posts with the short
cross-pieces, china insulators and lines of thick wire, standing beside
the telegraph-cabin, over the roof of which straddled the wireless
installation’s tall, latticed steel mast.

"We find it useful for business as well as instructional purposes," he
went on.  "Macrombie—the man in charge—is a one-time Royal Navy Petty
Officer Telegraphist and a first-class operator."  Sherbrand’s mouth
twisted a little at the corners as he added: "About twenty-four days out
of thirty, let us say!"

The quick rejoinder came:

"Then he’s D.O.D. two working days in the month, not counting Sundays.
I’ve met plenty of Macrombies in my time.  This doesn’t happen to be the
monthly pay-day, by any chance, or one of the other close days in its

"No, no!  He’s as right as rain and as sober as a seal," said Sherbrand.
"And—this tall fellow with red hair must be the man who has written to
me upon business.  I shall have to go to him."

They exchanged a left-handed grip, mutually smiling.

"Good old habits stick," said the Chief, and Sherbrand answered:

"Fortunately, they do.  Let me say again how much and how gratefully I
have to thank you for the teaching that has helped me to find myself!"
His clear light glance reverted to Saxham.  "The Doctor too, for giving
me this chance of meeting you.  Please tell him the story if you think
it would interest him.  I hope with all my heart, sir, that you will
soon come here again!"

"I had already taken the permission for granted," the Chief said, as
Sherbrand saluted and went forward to meet "the fellow with red hair."
"There is big business in that gyroscopic stabiliser of his," he added
to Saxham, "and our friends at the French War Ministry have tumbled to
it as one might naturally expect.  So much the worse for our bungling
bigwigs at Whitehall, who’ve let a good thing slip, for the millionth
time, out of their claws.  But taking for granted the value of the
patent, and recognising the likelihood of the French bid stimulating
Teutonic competition——"

The gentle, modulated voice broke off.  Von Herrnung had stepped out
upon the green and was striding towards the lightly-moving, less
stiffly-carried figure of Sherbrand, the approximation of the two
somehow suggesting a salute of gladiators previous to the fight.  Now
the big, grey-clad German was arrested in the middle of his stride by
the sudden kling-a-ling of a motor-gong, a sharp crystal vibration that
stiffened him to attention, and pricked his ears for a repetition of the

It did not immediately come.  He raised the left hand that held the
leather satchel, and swung it from front to rear, so that it was for a
moment clear of the outline of his body, as who should signal: "_I have
it safe!_"  Quick, watchful eyes noted this.  Took in also the ornate
bulk of the dark blue F.I.A.T. touring-car, as with the characteristic,
noiseless smoothness of its make, it glided between the ranks of parked
and waiting automobiles, and stopped in the open, perhaps some forty
yards away.

A fat yellow hand, with a twinkling solitaire upon it, waved.  A brown
hand, with a massive gold curb-chain watch-bracelet on the wrist of it,
beckoned imperiously. Something had been forgotten, something was still
to say. Von Herrnung wheeled, and went back in his traces as obediently
as the pointer that has been called to heel.  He did not uncover,
perhaps he had been told not to.  He saluted, and stood stiffly,
listening to a harsh German voice that yapped at him.  All his arrogance
and swagger seemed to have been juggled out of him by the gestures of
the brown hand with the flashing wrist-bracelet, emerging from the white
cuff with jewelled sleeve-links and the snowy sleeve with its broad
bands of glittering golden braid.


The slight sound pulled Saxham’s head round.  He had not been looking at
the occupants of the blue F.I.A.T. His eyes were intent on the tall
white figure of the woman standing beside his boy.  Her black lace
sunshade was closed.  She held the tall-sticked thing at arm’s-length,
leaning upon it, and the westering light smote a myriad of
multi-coloured sparkles out of the tinsel spangles of the hat with the
single black cock’s plume.  The queer headgear crowning her barbaric
hair, and her full white oval face with its wide, low, arched black
brows and long eyes, made her seem strange, alluring, as some
tall-stemmed, exotic flower, sprung at the incantation of an Oriental
conjuror, from a green stretch of English turf.

In the same instant von Herrnung touched his hat, stepped back from the
blue car, wheeled and walked away toward the waiting figure of
Sherbrand, the sallow man in the Homburg hat gave an order, the
chauffeur touched the electric starter, and the F.I.A.T. turned and
smoothly bowled away.  But in the instant of its turning, the bearded
man in the white naval uniform rose in his place, and obtruding half his
short, bulky body across the lean person of his sallow neighbour,
scrutinised the face and figure of Patrine Saxham with a cool,
appraising deliberateness that tortured the wincing flesh it enveloped
like the cut of a carriage-whip.

They were full, bright, and rather handsome grey-blue eyes shadowed by
the white cap-peak, and they had the indefinable expression of authority
and power.  Their glance said—and the face with the perfectly-trimmed
beard and the upturned moustache wore a curious smile that bore out the
glance’s meaning:

"So!  That’s the woman!"  And a surge of scalding shame and bitter
resentment rose in the heart of Patrine Saxham and filled it to the

She could not have explained why she felt certain that her shameful
secret was known to the man with the powerful eyes, the cast of whose
face with its pointed beard faintly reminded one of the King and the

Patrine had always abominated cheap sentiment.  She had once laughed
until she cried at a revival of an old four-decker drama, whose hero,
waking to the knowledge of a committed, irrevocable deed cried in
throaty, stagy tones of anguish upon God to put back the dreadful clock
of Time and give him yesterday.

Now she perceived the deep, vital interest of the common-place human
story.  If asking Him on whom that other sinner cried would wipe from
Time’s register a span of hours between twelve P.M. and three o’clock in
the morning—blot one deed from the Roll of things that done, are beyond
Humanity’s undoing—Patrine told herself that it would be worth while to
wear sackcloth, live on boiled field-peas, drink brook-water, and
pray—until her knees were worn to the bone.

She caught Saxham’s piercing glance across the intervening strip of
greensward.  He turned away his eyes, and a shudder went through her
frame.  Had he suspected—could anyone have found out and told him?  The
Doctor’s head was bent now as the General talked to him.  It seemed to
her that a muscle in his lean cheek twitched, a characteristic sign with
him of excitement, or emotion.  She wondered what the General had said
to Uncle Owen to make him look like that.

As a fact, the quiet voice was saying in Saxham’s ear: "And prepare
against a surprise, Doctor—for though your nerves are tough as aluminium
bronze, a few million gallons of water have rolled under the Thames
bridges since you and I held Council of War....  As I mentioned before,
the interest taken by the French Government in Sherbrand’s gyroscopic
hoverer may well have stimulated the interest of our Teuton neighbours.
But it doesn’t explain the presence on Fanshaw’s Flying Ground of
Lieutenant-General Count Helmuth von Moltke, Chief of the German Great
General Staff, and—Grand Admiral Prince Henry of Prussia, brother of the
Kaiser—in a F.I.A.T. touring-car!"

                             *CHAPTER XXIX*

                           *A SECRET MISSION*

"Can it be possible——"  Saxham checked himself.  "You see how rusty I am
getting, General.  You refer to that machine that turned out from where
cars are parked just now.  The German fellow went up to it....  It had a
groom beside the chauffeur and three other men inside it.... While I was
looking—elsewhere—it must have moved away!"

"It has only turned the corner of the café-restaurant," the Chief said
in his quiet tones.  He glanced in the direction of the squat block of
gaily painted wooden buildings devoted to the inner needs of Fanshaw’s
clients.  "The awning hides it, but I can see a bit of it still.  Until
it moves, I can go on talking.  Frankly, I am in the position of the
High Church curate who went out wild-pig shooting in the territories of
the Limpopo with a single-bore hammer-gun of grandpapa’s pattern—and got
his choice of pot-shots between a lion and a rhino.  Prinz Heinrich is
my royal lion and von Herrnung,—who counted for little more than a
bush-pig—has suddenly swelled into a rhinoceros."

He pulled the grizzled moustache thoughtfully, keeping his eyes glued on
the back of the big blue car.

"If I could get hold of Sherbrand!—but the chance is dead for the rhino
and lion winding me.  Old von Moltke with the big wart on his
ginger-coloured face, and the charming manner that makes you forget that
you don’t like him!—would certainly recognise me—and the nautical
Hohenzollern and I have met once or twice before.  I must lay low like
Brer Rabbit, and take a single-handed chance. No, no, Doctor, you have
your patients to look after!  I am not going to drag you into this.  But
if I’d got a couple of my Boy Scouts handy——"  He broke off,
encountering Bawne’s bright eyes.  "By George, Doctor!  I’m going to
chance it!  I’m going to give your youngster an opportunity to prove his
Saxham blood!"

The Master-hand gave the Scout’s Sign, and Bawne shot across like a
brownish streak of swiftness.  He drew himself up, gave the Full Salute,
and stood waiting, his rigid attitude in sharp contrast with his
dancing, expectant eyes. The Doctor looked at his watch and moved away
silently. The Chief said in a clear undertone:

"You see that tall, red-haired man in grey clothes over there with Mr.
Sherbrand?  Don’t look at him openly, or he will know we are talking
about him, but take a sidelong gliff, and say."

"I see him, sir."

"Do you know anything of him?  Stand easy and answer carefully."

The hand came down from the hat-brim.  The boy said:

"I’ve heard him talk, sir, and I think he is German. I’m learning that
and French at Charterhouse."

"He is a German.  Do you speak enough of the language to understand him,
suppose he were talking to one of his countrymen?"

"_Ich—kann—lesen, aber Ich kann es—nicht sprechen._"  The answer came
slowly.  "And if they weren’t using crack-jaw words, sir, or talking
very quick, I might manage—I could make out a lot of what they said."

"Very well, keep your man under close observation and—you see that brown
satchel he has in his hand?"

"I’ve seen it close, sir.  A flat brown leather despatch case thing—with
a criss-cross pattern on the leather, and two locks, and another lock on
the strap that goes round. He hadn’t it with him when first I saw him
talking to—a lady.  Then a man—a servant—came and called him away to
speak to some gentlemen in a big blue motor-car.  One of them—fat and
old and bald—with a wart on his cheek, who wore a white topper, and
yellowy clothes, and a red necktie, and looked rather like a—like an
Inspector of Sunday Schools in shooting-clothes—passed him the leather
case. That’s how I know he didn’t bring it, sir.  Oh! and the yellow car
he drives isn’t British.  She’s got an oval International plate with the
German ’D’ in black on a white ground."

"I am glad my Scout knows how to use his eyes!"

The Chief’s own eyes were crinkled with merriment. That Moltke, the
Chief of the German Great General staff, bosom friend of the All
Highest, should resemble a stout Inspector of Sunday Schools in the
estimation of a small British boy, was lovely in the extreme.

"Well, I want to know what the big German officer—he is an officer!—does
with that leather satchel he’s carrying so carefully.  Where he goes
with it, whom he talks to, and what he says to them.  Find out whether
it is light or heavy, if it is what I believe it to be, you might be
rendering good service to your country in destroying it.  But you’ll be
doing all I want or expect, if you stick to the man who carries it!"

"I’ll do that, sir, on my Honour!"

"Good!  Make your little German serve you.  I may have to leave here
upon this business, but I’ll be back within, at least—half an hour.  If
he goes before I get back, find out where he is going.  If you can’t
find out, follow him.  On foot if he walks, in a taxi if he doesn’t.
Here are six separate shillings—in that case you’ll want money for
fares.  Remember, if things take a puzzling turn and you find yourself
in a tight place, whisper a quiet word to Sherbrand, though I’d prefer
you to carry through on your own!  Report to me, in case he goes before
I get back here—at Headquarters, Victoria Street.  Have you got all this
tucked away safe in your head?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then quit yourself like a man.  My signal to you that I have left will
be a dog’s yelping.  Ah!"  The keen bright eyes, glued on the distant
back of the blue car, had seen the rear wheels moving.  Before the
F.I.A.T. glided smoothly out of eyeshot the Chief had hurried away.

In the opposite direction to the archway of exit, the slight, active
figure in the perfectly-cut blue serge morning clothes and pot hat of
Bond Street block, was rapidly walking. Bawne doubted his eyes for a
moment before he remembered that the Collingwood Avenue ran along that
side of the Flying Ground fence.  There was a smaller gate in charge of
a commissionaire, in the fence, about a hundred yards along it.
Taxi-cabs were standing outside the gate.  Any person on foot or awheel,
leaving the Flying Ground, must pass the gate and the taxi-stand.  You
could see through the chinks in the fence when they passed, nip out when
they were well by, and follow in a green-flagged chuffer.  Bawne had
settled this to his satisfaction before a wrench at the rein of duty
pulled his head round to the business on hand.

"I’m not spying on Mr. Sherbrand," the boy told himself, gritting his
small square teeth doggedly.  "I’ve _got_ to listen, so as to understand
the German’s game.  And I’m going to. This is how I’m going to!"

He began to turn hand-springs after the fashion of the London street
Arab, thus lessening the distance between himself and the talking men.
They glanced at him, and Sherbrand grinned, but they looked back again
directly at each other.  Then Bawne threw himself down and panted,
rolled over and lay, still panting.  Now he was near enough to hear what
passed between the two.

Sherbrand said:

"No, I was not particularly solid in my conviction that the aërial
stabiliser would take the fancy of the Chiefs of the Service
Aëronautique.  An accident prevented me from witnessing the final test,
and I got what the Americans call cold feet and judged it no use staying
in France longer. So I flew back here, starting early by daylight the
next morning, with Davis, my mechanic, and found a cable waiting at my
office to say the working of the invention had been observed with
interest by the Chiefs of the S. Aë. F., and that if I could carry out a
satisfactory time-trial at my headquarters in the presence of the French
Consul, the authorities at the Ministry of War would be willing to buy
my patents for France.  As it happened, I was suffering from a slight
obstruction in the nasal passages, that spoiled my climbing.  It was
absolutely necessary to go into Hospital. That is why I could not give
M. Jourdain an earlier date for the hovering-test you have just seen
carried out."

Von Herrnung demanded:

"But did you not receive a letter containing a business proposal?  A
communication from Rathenau, Wolff and Brothers, Aëromotor Engineers of
Paris, 200, Rue Gagnette? I happen to know that it was posted, and the
date being that of the Paris trial, Herren Rathenau and Wolff certainly
possess the prior claim!"

"Their communication reached me in Hospital, three days later than the
French War Office cable," Sherbrand answered.  "It had been forwarded
from the makeshift hangar I rented at Drancy—a mistake in the address
being the reason of the delay!"

"That fellow Lindemann is a _Dummer Teufel_," said von Herrnung,

"My German landlord....  Why—do you know him?" asked Sherbrand with a
look of surprise.

"No, certainly.  But you—you said the fellow’s name was Lindemann.  Not
so?  No?—then I am mistaken," said von Herrnung with another shrug.  He
hurried on as though to cover a mistake with a spate of sentences:

"Of course, with Rathenau and Wolff I have nothing to do.  Save as an
old customer, of whom they have asked a favour—you understand?  Indeed
I—you will pardon me!—do not your hoverer regard as an original
invention.  In 1912 our German Ministry of Marine completed a gun-boat
fitted with a gyroscopic stabiliser to prevent rolling—you understand—in
stormy weather.  The device was hellishly effective."

"So effective," rejoined Sherbrand, without the quiver of a facial
muscle, though there was laughter in his eyes, "that it broke up the

"_Es mag wohl sein!_" returned von Herrnung, covering discomfiture, if
he felt it, with his imperturbable shrug and hard blue stare.

Sherbrand went on, straightening his wide shoulders and clasping his
hands loosely at his back as he talked:

"I don’t claim that my patent is an absolutely new invention.  Far from
it.  But it is a new arrangement of some old ideas, and limited though
its use may be—it works. You have seen it working.  You agree that it
justifies its name?"  He waited for the assent, and went on: "Possibly
if I had described it as an aërial drag-anchor, I should have explained
its uses more clearly.  It is no good at all when your machine isn’t
flying level—of course you understand that?  If you were ass enough to
try to dive without cutting out the power that drives the horizontal
screws you would drop to the ground like a plummet and break into a
million of little bits—or dig a hole in the earth big enough for a Tube
Station.  But—keeping an even line of flight—when you switch it on it
pulls against the tractor just sufficiently to give you—not
immovability—but poise.  Sufficient to take a photograph or drop an
explosive with a good deal of accuracy."

The small boy lying outstretched on the warm turf near them, thought

"_Dummer Teufel_ meant ’stupid devil’ in German.  But this talk is
dreadfully business, I can’t stow away much. Man alive!  I wish Roddy
Wrynche or some other fellow with a top-hole memory had got this job to
tackle.  And yet the Chief trusted it to _me_!"

All this, while Sherbrand was explaining.

"M. Jourdain declared himself completely satisfied.  His observer said
that I maintained poise and stability for five minutes longer than the
stipulated twenty-five.  He looked at the altimeter and said I should
receive a definite answer within a couple of days....  Unlucky brute!
Someone must have run over him!"

The shrill yelp of a hurt dog had evoked Sherbrand’s exclamation.  The
sufferer’s plaint came from the Collingwood Avenue, on the other side of
the fence.  Thrice the excruciating sound ripped the ears, then died out
in a sobbing whimper....  _That was for me!_ Bawne told himself, as von
Herrnung went on:

"Still, you are not pledged.  There is no definite understanding.  In
the interests of the wealthy firm I am asked to represent—solely as a
matter of courtesy, because they have been immensely civil to me in
business,—you would not refuse me a test?"

Sherbrand said, drawing off his left glove and showing blood oozing from
under bluish-looking finger-nails:

"I found it uncommonly parky to-day at 10,000 feet. There was a
nor’-east breeze, a regular piercer.  Found myself spitting blood rather
badly, and to be candid, I was uncommonly grateful that the French
Consul declined my offer, in case he was not satisfied, to do the thing
again. The fact is, the operation, slight as it was, has weakened me a
little.  I wouldn’t care to repeat the performance without a good
night’s rest to buck me up."

Von Herrnung shrugged and agreed:

"That it is cold at 10,000 I can credit easily.  I have had the oil in
my own gauges frozen at 7,000 in midsummer. _Da ist nicht zit strassen_.
Hæmorrhage and dizziness are the chief enemies of the aviator.  One’s
stomach betrays one also, the cursed beast!—after a good hearty meal!"

"I don’t give mine the chance!" Sherbrand returned, "but stave off the
pangs of appetite with milk-tablets and meat-lozenges.  Do all my flying
on these and chocolate. Keep a little store of the things and a Thermos
of hot coffee, in a _cache_ I’ve made for them, under the map-desk on
the left of the instrument-frame, facing the pilot’s seat. If you will
come over to the Bird I’ll show you, and explain the working of the
gyroscopic hoverer."  He added, looking squarely at von Herrnung: "Of
course the cutting of the double screw is the chief thing about the
invention.  I’ve registered every way I know and got a trade-mark.  They
tell me at the Patent Office that my international rights are secure!"

"They should be, if you have those precautions taken. It does not do to
trust," said von Herrnung, "too much! The monkey proverb is law for most
men."  He shrugged. "It comes, by the way, from Namaland in German
South-West Africa.  ’_Nuts in your pouch are nuts in mine!_’"

The freemasonry of their calling had established a degree of
friendliness between them.  They were laughing over the monkey’s
philosophy as they went over together to the Bird. The small boy who had
been idly sprawling on the hot turf near them, with his tilted hat
shielding his face from the westering sun-rays, got up and trotted after
them like a collie pup.

"Coming too, young man?" Sherbrand said, glancing back and smiling.  The
boy nodded in answer, and thence-forward kept close at the heels of the
men, his ears industriously drinking in their conversation, while his
eyes were glued on the brown leather satchel depending from the German’s
gloved left hand.  Both men, now leaning over the side of the pilot’s
cockpit, examined the gearing of the hoverer, protected by a transparent
casing set in the tough ash, copper-riveted planking of the fuselage.
Then with the aid of sulky Davis they tilted the Bird, and inspected the
pair of thin circular plates of toughened steel with flanged edges that,
revolving at high velocity in different. directions, constituted the
horizontal screw.

"Driven from the engine, as you see, by an endless chain-drive
arrangement.  By manipulation of levers, you can throw the tractor out
of gear, and hover, under favourable circumstances and in still weather,
by means of the horizontal screw alone.  But as a rule you keep the
tractor working, and the screw acts in one as a lifter and
floating-anchor. That’s about all it amounts to!—I’ve said I don’t
pretend to hang immovable in the air like the albatross and the condor,
not to mention the gull and sparrow-hawk and dragon-fly!  While I hover
I am making way—but way to an inappreciable amount.  One of these days
we shall find out the big Secret of Stability.  Until then we must rub
along as best we can!"

Von Herrnung returned:

"I am hellishly interested in your invention.  It now occurs to me that
as you happen to know my flying record"—he shrugged his great shoulders
and smoothed his tight red roll of moustache with a well-manicured
finger-tip—"that it is possible you would have sufficient confidence to
allow me to test your gyroscopic hoverer myself?"  He laughed again
pleasantly as he finished: "Whatever else I may do, I give you my word
of honour I shall not pile up your machine. Will you consent?  It may
lead—supposing you do not close with the French offer—to big
business—done with my friends!"

Sherbrand had looked doubtful, only for an instant. Before the
twelve-year-old eavesdropper had recovered from the shock that had set
his brain spinning and his heart thumping, the situation had been
accepted by the owner of the Bird of War.  He held out his left hand,
and von Herrnung gripped and wrenched it, noting with inward amusement
that his grip had brought fresh lines of blood creeping about the edges
of Sherbrand’s finger-nails.

"You shake hands with the left," he commented, smiling. "Not for the
first time have I noticed the peculiarity in Englishmen of the younger

"It is a custom," Sherbrand answered, "with—members of an organisation
to which I had, and still have, the honour to belong."

His eyes, in speaking, went to the bright-haired boy in Scout’s uniform
standing near them, but von Herrnung’s glance had not followed his.  The
boy was staring wistfully at the round-faced clock on the front gable of
the café restaurant—ten minutes to the half-hour and no sign of the
Chief’s returning.  Bawne’s courage began to ooze away at the ends of
his fingers and toes.

"Then," von Herrnung was beginning impatiently, when a sallow,
undersized young man, whose hollow chest and inky paper cuffs advertised
his clerical employment, came up, touched a pen sticking out from behind
his ear, and said as Sherbrand turned to him:

"Beg pardon, sir, but the telegraph-cabin is locked up proper, and Mr.
Macrombie ’as carried orf the key."

"Out of sorts to-day, is he?" Sherbrand asked meaningly, and the
telegraph-clerk answered:

"I’ve never seen ’im so bad before—in the middle of the month!"

As Fate would have it, Macrombie, ex-Petty Officer Telegraphist of the
R.N.—from whose sleeve the golden Crown and thunderbolt had been reft by
reason of his anti-teetotal habits, had received a visit that morning
from a friend who had repaid a debt.  Hence the licensed operator of
Fanshaw’s experimental and educational Wireless-station had succumbed to
an attack of his intermittent complaint.

Hear Macrombie’s assistant continuing the recital:

"He’s left the aërial connected to the transmitter and gone out for
lemon-squashes four times since one o’clock grub.  ’That’s the drink for
men who have souls to save, ye little fag-eater!’ he says to me;
’Salvation for soul and body, sucked through a straw!  If thae deboshed
and hopeless drunkards at the Admiralty could be induced to swear off
their cursed alcohol and take to it, I wad no longer be deaved to the
point of steeping my tongue in profanity, by the kind o’ eediots’
gibberish that is yammering at my lugs!’"

"He’d been raking a lot of Admiralty strays in?" Sherbrand queried.  Von
Herrnung, who had been grinding his heel into the turf and gnawing his
lip with ill-concealed impatience, turned his head sharply, and listened
to the colloquy with all his ears.

"Not so much X’s as definites, sir," responded Macrombie’s assistant.
"He was upset about ten minutes before he broke out by getting an
’Urgent’ without a Preparative Call.  Then comes ’Important’ in
International Code, and ’Administration’ and ’Emergency.’  Then ’War
Office,’ and ’Documents,’ and ’Enforcement of the Law.’  By that time ’e
was purple in the face and ’arf crazy.  ’If I had my way wi’ you, ye
bung-nosed intemperates,’ he says, groaning-like—’I wad keep ye on grits
an’ caller watter for a fortnicht!  Oh, that men, as auld Hosea says in
the inspired Screeptures’—an’ I ’appen to know myself it was
Shakespeare—’should pit an enemy intil their mooths to steal awa’ their
brains!’  An’ ’e snatches off the telephone ’ead-band and chucks it into
the corner, and just as my own instrument starts to tick out a call, he
ketches me by the neck as if I’d bin a tame rabbit, an’ slings me out o’
the office an’ locks the door.  ’Out o’ this!’ ’e says, puttin’ the
cabin key in ’is pocket.  ’I will no’ have your lugs, dirr-ty as they
are, polluted by the unclean counsels o’ the wicked. I’m awa’ to cool
the wrath o’ the righteous wi’ anither lemon squash!’  An’ the winder is
blocked by the Morse key instrument, an’ even if it wasn’t, it’s too
small for me to get in through!"  Macrombie’s victim ended, with an
injured sniff.

"Well, well!  Better hang about the cabin a bit and possess your soul in
patience.  If any pupils drop along, tell them they’ll have to wait!
Perhaps Macrombie’ll turn up sober enough to take them on by-and-by.  As
for the message in transmission, I daresay it will keep.  Mr. Fanshaw’s
not expecting any particularly important communication that I know of.
Oh, hang it!"  Sherbrand whistled dismally.  "I’d forgotten.  That’s
just what I am!"

"Shall I go and see if I can find Rumball?" suggested Macrombie’s
assistant helpfully.  "He’s at the engine-sheds. He’s been a locksmith.
’Twouldn’t take him more than a sec. to open the office door!"

"Cut then!" acceded Sherbrand, and the telegraph-clerk touched his
pen—discovering by a jab of the inky nib that he was wearing it—and set
off at a trot in the direction of the engine-sheds.

You are to suppose that von Herrnung’s sharp ears had gathered the pith
of the communication.  Some meaning in the isolated words the clerk had
repeated had had a palpable effect upon his nerves.  His face looked
bluish-grey and streaky, as he said to Sherbrand, stammering in his

"So then, it is agreed about my flying your machine?"

"I see no objection."

"_Gut!_" Von Herrnung went on, concealing a huge joy under a careless
camaraderie: "Can you lend me a cap and coat and a pair of
_Schulzbrille_?  Goggles you call them, yes!  The coat should better to
be a large one"—he stumbled in his English now through sheer
excitement—"I am so much a bigger man than you!"

"Certainly.  We keep Flying rigs in all manner of sizes. It’s in the way
of business," Sherbrand said.  Then his glance fell upon Davis, whose
little black-avised countenance wore an expression of sulky resentment,
and he uttered a slight exclamation.  "I forgot, Davis!  I really am
very sorry!"  He turned to von Herrnung and explained in a tone of
finality that enraged the hearer: "This is Davis’s afternoon off.  I
cannot ask him to repeat the climb."

"It is hellishly annoying!  But see!  Listen, my fellow!"  He addressed
himself to little grimy Davis, unhelmeted and unbuttoned, leaning
against the Bird’s flank with his hands in the pockets of his oily
overalls, chewing a blade of grass; "You will go up with me if I tip
you?  A sovereign!  Come then!  The gold does it!  You will go up with
me, will you not, yes?"

Davis spat out grass and delivered himself:

"Not even for my young guv’nor—and a Bank of England finnup, do I do the
soaring heagle hact again this blooming Wednesday."

Welsh Davis had come to London from a mountain farm in Merioneth,
speaking nothing but his native Cymric, and had culled his Sassenach
from Cockney lips.  Von Herrnung bid another sovereign, and then two
more, ineffectually.

"Naow!"  Davis was rock.  "I’ve done my day’s stunt an’ I’m nuffy.
D’yer tumble?  Nuffy!  Yer knaows wot that means—if you’re a Flying

"Damn you, I will gif you ten pounds!"  Von Herrnung’s face was wrung
and streaked with passion.  He breathed hard, and the brown leather
satchel jumped and wobbled in his shaking hand.

"It isn’t any use," said Sherbrand, "really!  Money doesn’t count with
Davis where his off-time’s concerned. Davis doesn’t want to go up again,
and I’ve not another man of his weight available.  What do you turn the
scale at?  I should guess 16 stone or thereabouts?"

"I weigh 16 st. 8 lbs. in my ordinary clothes."

"Well, I tot 11 st. 6 lbs. in the fullest of flying-rig, and Davis only
8 st. 5 lbs.  And the Bird is built to carry in addition to her
engine—what with the instruments, so forth, and man-freight, a cargo of
something like 22 stone.  You see, even with Davis, you’d load the
machine a good bit over her"—he smiled at the conceit—"her Plimsoll
mark. Again, I’m sorry.  It’s your luck!  No flying for you to-day!"

"It is damnably annoying!  But"—von Herrnung’s red-lashed blue eyes were
busily scanning Bawne’s face and figure—"but suppose I could get a boy
of 6 stone to go up with me?  Merely as ballast, for I do not require an
assistant—the difficulty might be got over in this way?  What you say,
my little English fellow?"  He turned on the boy with a great air of
jovial patronage.  "Are you plucky enough?  Shall we go for a voyage
together in the sky?"


The dark blue eyes met the hard light ones bravely, though every vestige
of colour had sunk out of the young face.  Then back to lips and cheeks
the banished colour came racing.  Bawne flushed crimson, as von Herrnung
held up a bright bit of gold, and sharply shook his head.

"_Was_?  Will you not take the sovereign?" von Herrnung demanded.  "Are
you a faint-heart after all?"

The boy bit his lip and said, clenching his small fists desperately:

"It’s against the rule for Scouts to take tips.  So I don’t want the
money.  But I’m ready to come with you!"

"Look here, old fellow!" Sherbrand was beginning anxiously.  The boy
stopped him with:

"Really and truly I’m not funky—and you said I was to have another

"So I did, and so you shall," agreed Sherbrand.  "But this won’t be just
a ’bus trip around the aërodrome.  It will be climbing and spiralling
and hovering, and all the rest!"

Bawne persisted:

"You could strap me in.  And I’m not afraid—really!"

"And," von Herrnung interposed, "I shall not ascend higher than three
thousand.  Probably less will do for my purpose.  The boy will be quite
safe.  Surely you are able to trust him with me?"

Sherbrand hesitated, then said to Bawne in a relieved tone: "Well,
there’s the Doctor talking to a tall lady in white with a hat that
glitters.  Run across to your father and ask him whether you may go?"

"I’d rather you asked him—if you must—and let me stop here!"

"_Gut!  Sehr gut!_"  Von Herrnung’s tautened nerves would have been
relieved by some hard Prussian swearing. He jangled out a laugh instead.
He caught hold of the boy under the armpits and lifted him high above
his head. "What is your weight?  Six stone?  Come now, have I not
guessed nearly!"  He had not relinquished his grip on the leather
satchel, and as it banged against his ribs, Bawne realised that it was
quite light.

"Papers inside!" he said to himself.  Something quite hard was under the
leather at the corners, perhaps the thinnest of metal plates.  Its
contact with the boy’s body seemed to sober von Herrnung’s exultation.
He dropped Bawne unceremoniously, and straightened himself again.

"How much petrol has been used?" he asked hastily of Davis, going over
to the Bird and mounting on the landing-carriage to look at the gauges.
"Because when I fly I never take risks.  You will have to fill up the
tank again.  Do you hear, my fellow?"

"If Mr. Sherbrand orders me," Davis spat out another piece of grass,
"dessay I shall do it!"  He eyed von Herrnung with surly disapproval as
he craned over the Bird’s fuselage, while audibly commenting to an
acquaintance who had strolled up:

"Sheer blinders, I call ’em, these ere Fritzies!  Walk into Buckingham
Pallis next minute and ask to look into the Privy Puss.  ’Ope the
Governor comes back before ’e gits Nosey Parkerin’ into the ’orizontal
’overing gear!  Perish me if I ever met a bloke with such a nerve!
Watto, old sonny?"  He addressed himself to the boy.  "Ain’t you feelin’
up to the posh?"

"I am quite all right, thank you!" Bawne responded, while his heart
bumped against his ribs.  In his brain words and sentences kept forming:

"I’m only a little chap.  And this is—a Big thing! Bigger than the Chief
expected, perhaps!  And he said he’d be back in half an hour."  Half an
hour meant thirty minutes.  He glanced at the big round white-faced
clock above the entrance of the café restaurant.  More than fifteen
minutes of the half-hour had gone.

To stick to the big, brutal German was his—Bawne’s—Secret Mission.  And
the inspiring, uplifting voice that thousands of boy-hearts thrill to
all the big world over had said to him:

"Quit yourself like a man!"

                             *CHAPTER XXX*

                             *THE REAPING*

To Patrine, when the shadow of the familiar figure of the Doctor mingled
with hers upon the dry green grass, and Saxham’s voice called her by her
name, it was as though his presence had a weight that physically
oppressed her, and his scrutiny seared her flesh like the approach of
white-hot iron.

Through her mind passed swift sentences: "_Yet another of us has
disgraced him!  My father and mother are not the only traitors of our
name!_"  In the rawness of her mental anguish every sense was
unnaturally exaggerated.  The ticking of Saxham’s watch, that the
furious beating of her heart could not drown, tormented by its
iteration.  And worst of all, was the consciousness of defilement in the
physical sense.

"Did not your mother give you my message?"

Always pale, her pallor did not demand particular attention, save that
under their ruddy salve the edges of her lips showed white.  She
answered, forcing the lips to smile, compelling her eyes to meet

"About coming to see you?"  She remembered and drew from her gilt-chain
vanity bag the letter she had not posted: "This was written to you
to-day.  Then I thought I would have been able to look in at Harley
Street, and in the end——"

"In the end you neither paid the visit nor posted the excuse.  Well, be
more considerate in future to those who love you.  Sincere, clean love
does not grow on every gooseberry bush, my dear!"

The curt speech, made in the Doctor’s brusquest tone, conveyed to
Patrine an impression of exquisite kindness. So many boons, so many
benefits had been conferred in that grim, curt way.  She had wept and
would not weep again, but her hard bright eyes grew misty as she thanked
him, and asked after Lynette, with a touch of wistfulness that recalled
to the Doctor that unforgettable time when greedy Death had threatened
to rob him of his joy.  He answered her cheerfully, and they found
themselves chatting of familiar, everyday matters across the gulf that
yawned between.  And then, warned by some swift change of expression in
her face, Saxham glanced up to see Sherbrand approaching.

"Doctor!" he called.  "Sorry to interrupt, but would you listen a

The tall, lightly-built, lightly moving figure came swinging towards
them.  He still carried the eared cap with the goggled visor, his thick,
silvery-blonde hair was darkened at the temples with the dampness
generated under the close covering of waterproof.  His light grey-blue
eyes were smiling, yet there was a pucker of anxiety between his
eyebrows, as he put von Herrnung’s case.

"So," he ended, "instead of taking a second flight in the Bird with me
as we arranged, would you trust your boy to this foreign crack who’s in
a hole for a passenger?  He is Captain von Herrnung of the German Flying
Service—winner of the two-days’ flight from Hanover to Paris in April—a
famous run!"  He added, "I need hardly say that with such a record as
von Herrnung holds you cannot be apprehensive of any rashness or neglect
on his part. But I’ll own I would rather take Bawne up another day
myself.  Still, von Herrnung——"

"I am aware of the reputation held by the person you mention.  I am
going now to speak to him."

The Doctor’s face was devoid of all expression.  But he battled, as he
spoke, with a masterful desire to forbid Bawne the expedition.  To
assert parental authority on this point would have been the mode of
dealing approved by one of the two men who dwelt within the Dop Doctor.
The other Saxham said "Hold!"

Dare you place your paternal love, that other Saxham asked—between your
son and his duty?  Because it would be so easy to do it, is the reason
why you should refrain! The Doctor had walked a few paces towards the
object of his troubled reflections.  He wheeled abruptly, returned, and
presented Sherbrand to his niece.

A faint blush rose in Patrine’s white cheeks as her eyes met those of
the tall young aviator.  They looked at her without any sign of
recognition, and the conviction, "_He has forgotten!_" shot stingingly
across her mind.  "_He did not think me worth remembering_" came next.
And then she could have laughed, recalling that she had dismissed him
from her own thoughts on the discovery of his connection with Fanshaw’s.
She had made so certain that a teacher of Flying couldn’t be a

Now, face to face with him again, in his upright easy bearing, in his
straight and fearless regard, in the pleasant well-bred voice that
addressed her in a brief conventional sentence or so, she read his
patent of gentlehood.

From whatever root it sprang, the flower was noble.  Her swift eyes shot
a glance at the bigger figure in grey.  What a hoggish knight of the
dunghill, what a high-born clown had she not distinguished by her choice
and selection.  The smile of scorn that curved her mouth was suddenly
banished by the sudden recollection of Bawne.

"Uncle Owen, you have not yet told Mr. Sherbrand whether Bawne may go up
again or not.  I am sure—if you won’t think me—if you don’t mind my
saying so!—that he has had enough for to-day!  I think it would be
better if you would not——"

It was not the deep warm voice of Patrine’s characteristic utterance,
but a weaker, thinner voice that hesitated and faltered and trailed
away.  It recalled nothing to Sherbrand.  He looked at her and
transferred his gaze to Saxham, who asked:

"Does this German officer intend climbing to any high altitude, or
perpetrating anything in the nature of a display?"

Sherbrand explained:

"He does not want to go higher than three thousand. Just to try the
hoverer, regarding which some business friends of his are bitten with
curiosity.  My mechanic is not able to go up with him, and he wants a
light-weight passenger.  He is over sixteen stone himself, and the Bird
has been built to carry me with Davis.  I calculated her wing-area to——"

Sherbrand travelled into the realm of technicalities, using terms that
were Volapuk and Esperanto to Patrine.  He had supple, finely-shaped
hands, and used them as he talked with vivid illustrative gestures.

"So," he ended, "as your plucky youngster asked to go, it seemed a way
out of the difficulty, provided you weren’t dead against the thing.  Of
course we’ll swadd the little chap in a sweater or so under the
pneumatic jacket.  It’ll be a bit parky, even at three thousand, now the
sun’s beginning to down."

He added:

"I’ll see to the strapping myself.  You may rely upon it, Doctor."

Saxham said with a look of kindness at the handsome face with the clear
candid eyes:

"I am sure of that!"  He added, mastering that inward impulse: "I shall
not forbid the flight if Bawne is set on it.  But first, I must speak to

And the great form with the stern thoughtful face and scholar’s stoop
moved across the greensward, followed by the tall young figures of
Sherbrand and Patrine.  Of the two, the man was by a bare inch the
taller.  This Patrine realised in a swift side-glance.  Certain featural
characteristics of him, personal impressions received
half-unconsciously, retained their clear sharpness then and for many

The silvery-yellow hair toning into the pale brown skin. The powerful
sweep of the brows over eyes set flush with their large orbits,
prominent, brilliant, mobile as the eyes of a bird of flight.  The nose,
arched and jutting like a kite’s beak, with large sensitive nostrils,
the somewhat sunken cheek and the sharply-angled jaw, the little ear and
the rounded skull superbly set upon the full muscular neck rising out of
the collar of the gabardine, made up a portrait upon which some happy
woman might well dote and dream.

It was five o’clock and the breeze that smelt of heather and clover-hay
and strawberries blew more strongly, straight from under the westering
sun.  Patrine drank in deep draughts of the buoyant sweetness.  The
leaden gyves had fallen from her limbs, the leaden weight had lifted
from her bosom.  She had recovered something of her old, elastic grace
of movement, that even the sheath-skirt could not spoil.  Looking at
her, Sherbrand said to himself:

"She walks like a Highland hill-woman or a native girl of the
Philippines.  And—did Heaven or a Bond Street specialist give her that
extraordinary hair?  I rather hate it, and yet I have to go on looking
at it.  Does she know? I wonder if she knows?"

She felt his eyes on her.  And the buoyant sense of well-being that his
presence brought to her was mingled with an agony of apprehension.  Her
heart clamoured, like a brooding thrush attacked by the owl, that Bawne
should not be permitted to risk himself with von Herrnung.  "_Does any
other living being know him as I know him?_" she asked herself.  "_If by
some misadventure it came to a question of one life or the other, would
he scruple—no! he would not scruple for an instant to sacrifice the

Three words to Uncle Owen—if one only dared to speak them—would have put
the thing out of the question.  But at the thought of the dreadful
avowal to which such an utterance might lead, Patrine was stricken dumb.
She could not face the music.  This was one little ear of wild oats out
of the full field that waited for her reaping, sown in the hours that
lie between the midnight of pleasure and the dawn of the Day of Remorse.

Perhaps she and Sherbrand had walked more slowly than it had seemed to
her.  She saw Saxham and his son meet, heard, indistinctly the exchange
of a few brief sentences, and then the boy, with a jump to hug his
father round the neck, ran to her as she came up.

"Cousin Pat, I’m going to get into my flying-kit in a minute."  His
heart was thumping so that it shook him, and the short upper lip with
the gold-brown dust of freckles on it quivered, hard as he tried to keep
it stiff: "One doesn’t do it before people generally—but I’d rather like
you to kiss me now!"

"My precious, a dozen times!"

She said it impetuously in the deep womanly baritone that Bawne loved,
and Sherbrand started as he heard it. She dropped her tall-sticked
sunshade, and caught the little boyish figure to her broad womanly
bosom, hugged him until he panted, and kissed his pale cheeks red.  You
do not need to be reminded that Patrine was a galumpher. "Don’t go!
don’t go!" she whispered in her darling’s neck. "I hate your going! and
I don’t believe Uncle Owen likes it....  Say you’ve been up once and
you’re ’nuffy! Pretend you funk it.  Do, for my sake!"

"I—can’t.  Ouch!  You tickle!  Please let me go.  This is business!"  He
squirmed, and she burst out laughing, and released him.  The act was a
wrench that tore her bleeding heart anew.

He bounded instantly after Sherbrand, seeing him go forward to join von
Herrnung, who was standing watching Davis fill the Bird’s tank with
petrol, and her reservoir with oil.

There was no spurring these lazy devils of English into movement....
The accursed pig-dogs, the stupid sheep’s heads!  If that fragmentary
Wireless message had really to do with _the business_, within the next
ten minutes everything might be ruined.  One walked perilously, as
amongst pebbles, holding a watch-glass of High Explosive in one’s hand.
Here came the man and the boy.  He joined them with a noisy burst of
forced laughter.  Presently you saw all three moving in the direction of
a building where the "flying-kits of all sorts and shapes and sizes," of
which Sherbrand had boasted, were kept for the use of the patrons of
Fanshaw’s School.  As they went in, Bawne cast a wistful glance up at
the clock on the front gable of the café restaurant, now supplying
afternoon tea served in brown teapots, and rolls and butter on thick
white platters, to a thin sprinkling of customers.

"Three minutes to the half-hour," said the clock.

Would the Chief come, or must this thing be carried out by a small boy
whose heart lay, a palpable lump of cold lead in the pit of his stomach,
and whose knees were turning to jelly as he went?

If Cousin Pat, when she begged him not to go, had known how badly he,
Bawne, had wanted to hold her round the neck and beg her not to let him,
he would at this moment have been unheroically safe.

She was so big.  He had most dreadfully wanted to cling to her and
cry—imagine a fellow of twelve doing anything so kiddish.  But he had
swallowed the unmanly tears, and wriggled out of her strong protecting

He looked back and saw her tall white figure, standing near the hulking
black-clad shape of the Doctor, who had pulled his hat-brim low down
over his eyes, and did not seem to be talking or laughing at all.  Davis
was doing something with a spanner to the Bird’s under-carriage, and the
long, thin shadow of her in combination with the squat shadow of the
little stooping Welshman, stretched eastwards over the dry green grass.

He heaved a big sigh and followed his man in.  Von Herrnung was already
trying on pneumatic coats, swearing in nervous German when they were not
big enough.  At last he was caparisoned, in a heavy suit of
flannel-lined Carberrys and a buttonless hooded jacket.  He had stripped
the burst glove from his wounded hand, thrown it away, and replaced the
magpie pearl ring upon his little finger. He had put on a woollen helmet
and tied over that a flapped cap with goggles and ear-pieces.  While he
attended to his outfit, the leather satchel lay at his feet, or
sometimes between them, or he would keep a boot-toe on a corner of it.
And his hard blue eyes were vigilantly watchful against surprise.

Sherbrand and the dresser—who presided over a long room of shelves and
pegs laden with queer garments, and who looked like a washed mechanic in
spotless blue overalls—put Bawne into a woollen sweater, and added to
the panoply he had worn already that morning, and which consisted of
leggings, slip-strapped to a webbing waistbelt, a pneumatic jacket, a
knitted helmet such as von Herrnung wore, and a pair of goggles.  They
looked like the Eskimo hunter and his little boy in the "Book of The
Arctic"—a volume specially beloved of Saxham’s small son.

It was five minutes past the half-hour when they emerged from the
dressing-shed.  Saxham came to meet them, turned and walked by his son’s
side.  Davis, whose weakness as regards the sex we know, had pinched
from the visitor’s enclosure a green-painted iron chair for Patrine. She
half-rose, stung by an impulse of escape, when she saw von Herrnung
approaching, and then controlled herself and sat down again.

Nothing escaped her long eyes.  They saw Sherbrand glance from Saxham to
von Herrnung, and read the intention of an introduction in his look.  He
had just begun:

"Doctor, I don’t think you have met Captain——" when von Herrnung
lengthened his long stride, outstripped his companions, and went over
swiftly and stood beside Patrine.

                             *CHAPTER XXXI*

                     *VON HERRNUNG BAITS THE HOOK*

She knew that he had interpreted her movement as an invitation.

He saluted her and said, speaking thickly:

"It is necessary that I have a word with you.  Walk with me for one
moment.  I shall not keep you more!"

He bulked huge in his rig-out, but looked thoroughly at home, and deadly
workmanlike.  He pushed up his goggles as though conscious that they
discounted his personal attractions, and his blue eyes were stony and
glittering, and his full mouth showed pale and hard-set under the
scarlet roll of his moustache.

"I shall not see you again to-day, and I have something important to
tell you."  He spoke rapidly and his breathing was harsh and loud.  "I
have been recalled by my Chiefs and return to Germany in—another two or
three days.  That we do not meet again before I leave is possible,
therefore I wish to give you my address."

She did not look up.  A white hand with red hairs growing thick on the
back of it offered her a pencilled card. She made no movement to take
it.  He said, thrusting the card underneath her eyes:

"It is printed here in German letters.  You read and speak my language
badly, so I will translate for you—’Squadron-Captain-Pilot Count Theodor
von Herrnung, Imperial Field Flying Service, Flight Station XXX.,
Taubefeld, near Diebrich, West Hessen, Germany.’  Write your letter to
me in English.  The address copy from this. Will you not take the card?"

"There is no need to.  I do not mean to write to you!"

"_Danke_.  You are candid," he said, "at least.  You give me to
understand that whatever happens—" he repeated the words with a singular
inflection "_whatever happens!_—you will have no more to do with me?"

"Have I not told you so twice already?"

He gritted his teeth and said, controlling furious anger:

"_Erklären Sie_!  _Was giebt es_?  Why are you so—rottenly furious with
me?  You have yourself to thank for—what has happened!  You led me on.
You made me crazy about you.  And the devil of it is I am so still!  The
sight of you maddens me!  Listen!  Do not be stupid—unkind to yourself
and to me!  In three days from now, you will get an envelope at your
Club with plenty of money.  Join me at my headquarters at Taubefeld and
then—you will see!  We will be happy—you shall have plenty of money to
throw about when we visit Berlin and other big cities, and jewels,
dresses, pleasure, admiration—everything a beautiful woman wants!
_Grosse Gott_!  Can I offer anything more tempting?  What are you
saying?  ’Yes!’ or ’No!’"

Her narrowed eyes looked like long black slits in her white face.  The
pale lips barely moved to answer:

"Neither!  Are you proposing to marry me?"

He laughed woodenly, and repeated:

"Marry you!  Ha, ha!  What _verdammt_ nonsense are you talking?  What
has love to do with getting married? Nothing that I have ever heard!  Of
course I shall marry—my family have arranged all that for me.  But my
Countess will not interfere with my mistress—that I promise you!  Come,
be kind, my beautiful Isis!  Whisper now that you agree!"

He bent his head to hear.  The whisper came from the pale lips:

"I will see you in Hell first!"

He started, taken aback.  Her own utterance had shocked her.  "Am I a
street-walker already," she asked herself, "that I begin to curse and

A whistle trilled.  He started and said:

"So then, all is over between us?"

She bent her head assentingly, and her glance fell guiltily on Bawne who
was standing near.  Von Herrnung, aware of him at the same instant,
turned on him with a scowl and the harsh demand:

"What is this?  Do little English boys pry and listen?"

Bawne returned, looking at the other squarely:

"Beg pardon, but Mr. Sherbrand’s calling you.  He says it’s getting
jolly late."

"_So!_"  Von Herrnung glanced at his wrist-watch, in the act lifting the
brown leather satchel into fullest view.  The boy queried with open-eyed
innocent curiosity:

"Shall I carry that?  Are you going to take it with you?"

"_Es mag wohl sein_," von Herrnung answered.  Then he clicked his heels
and bowed formally, and kissed Patrine’s cold and heavy hand.  She felt
his teeth grit as he did it. She knew he was swearing in his way.

"Adieu, then," he said, smiling at her maliciously.  "Will you not wish
me _Angenehme Reise_?"

"Certainly.  A pleasant voyage, and a safe landing!"  Her eyes fell on
Bawne’s little, oddly garbed figure and her woman’s heart spoke in spite
of her.  "Take care of my dearest!" broke from her, and von Herrnung

"He is your dearest?  Ah yes!  I will certainly take very good care of

He bowed, wheeled about and walked from her with his long strides, and
the boy, with a face all flushed and quivering, suddenly jumped at her
neck and hugged her; bringing with the rough little embrace the queer
scent of water-proofed material and dubbined leather, knocking the
silver-spangled hat awry, loosening divers tortoiseshell hairpins and an
amethyst slide-buckle holding up the heavy tresses of the dead
beech-leaf coloured hair, as he whispered:

"Remember I love you, Pat.  Don’t mind!"

And she shuddered as he freed her, and ran from her, asking herself: How
much had the child overheard of von Herrnung’s proposal?  What had he
comprehended of what he had heard?

Next, she was aware of the pleasant voice of Sherbrand calling, and saw
von Herrnung imperiously beckoning.  A cold sickness of dread assailed
her, and her knees trembled underneath her weight.  A mechanic came
running past, carrying away the chair Davis had brought her.  He set it
down at a safe distance from the aëroplane, and she staggered to it,
leaning on the long staff of her sunshade, and sat heavily down, feeling
chilly and old....

Saxham had squeezed Bawne’s shoulder and kissed him, and then withdrawn
to a distance whence he could see all that took place.  He watched Davis
and Sherbrand help the boy into the forward cockpit, and fasten about
him the safety belt attached to the fuselage on either side of the fixed
bamboo seat.

"You are sure you really want to fly again?  Mind, I believe you’re as
safe with him as houses, but if you don’t want to go, say the word, and
you shan’t!"

Sherbrand whispered the words as he busied himself with the boy.  And
Bawne set his small teeth and squared his sturdy boyish shoulders,
registering an unspoken vow to go in spite of all....

One had been told to drop a word to Sherbrand if one found oneself in a
tight place.  But could one ever hold up one’s head again before the
Patrol, if one did this?  To share one’s Mission with another when the
Chief had said "I’d rather you’d carry through on your own" wasn’t to be
thought of.  Mother—he swallowed hard at the thought of her—would say so

It troubled his faithful little soul that he could no longer see von
Herrnung.  He heard him talking in his guttural English, to Davis, whom
Bawne could not see either—as he stood near the nose of the machine, in
readiness to start the tractor—any more than the two mechanics who
steadied the Bird, pressing each a toe on the axle of the under-carriage
as they held on to a steel rod that ran along under the rearward edges
of her single plane.

His final directions sharply given, von Herrnung stepped up on the
under-carriage, threw a long leg over the bulwark of the fuselage, and
stepped into the pilot’s pit.  Bawne screwed his head round and saw,
through and over a low talc wind-shield, the upright torso of the
German, big, hard, and indomitable, the leather satchel still gripped in
his strapped-up left hand.

"Are you going to take that leather case along with you?"  Sherbrand’s
voice had a note of surprise in it.  "You’ll find it a handicap, let me
say.  You can’t sit on it or lean against it, and if you tried to put it
under you, you’d find it dead-certain to foul the controls."

To Sherbrand’s voice, von Herrnung’s answered harshly and rather

"Surely I shall be able to carry this?  It is nott-thing but a folding
camera, with a telephoto lens made especially for Survey and
Reconnaissance.  There is still a good light. If I fly with the sun
behind me, I shall be able to take quite a panorama of London
North-West.  It is not forbidden—no?  Your Government would not object?"

"I don’t suppose my Government would care a little hang!" Sherbrand’s
voice answered.  "But—this isn’t one of your German Army Albatros’s or
Kondors, and I don’t see where you’re to stow your camera, unless in the
observer’s pit.  Of course the hovering installation takes up a lot of
room, and I can’t possibly risk your hampering the controls."

"_Ganz recht_!  Very good!" came von Herrnung’s voice, giving in with
simulated heartiness.  In another moment his long legs, followed by his
great body, came scrambling into the forward cockpit, and his hands
busied themselves about the stout belt of pig-leather that secured the
boy in the observer’s seat.

"Look here, my fellow!  You will take care of this for me?  See, I have
passed the belt-strap through the handle. Do not touch it!"  The
guttural whisper had menace in it.  "I shall be sure to know if you
touch it, or try to unbuckle the strap."

"What’s up?"  Sherbrand’s head and shoulders came thrusting over the
other side of the cockpit.  "Why did you unstrap him?" he demanded
brusquely of von Herrnung. "Don’t you know that he is my friend’s son,
and that it is my business to see to this?"  Sherbrand’s hand felt over
Bawne’s belts and bucklings before his head and shoulders vanished.
Then von Herrnung’s big body withdrew itself. His voice, sounding from
the pilot’s pit on the other side of the low wind-shield, gave a
peremptory order, and the tractor began slowly to revolve.  An instant
later, with a blinding flash, it began to roar and whizz round
furiously. The Bird, freed from the hands that detained her, leaped
forwards, hurtling over the smooth turf at the speed of a racing
motor-car.  The smooth floor of the cockpit unexpectedly tilted up, and
a rough cold wind buffeted Bawne about the head and shoulders, sent
eddies down about his dangling feet, bellowed in his covered ears and
made him gasp for breath.  Then—houses and people, trees, and hangars
fell suddenly away, and he knew that the Bird was rushing upwards at the
bidding of its "Gnome" motor—long superseded now, but then the latest
marvel in aërial engineering—towards the blue sky with its lines of gilt
mackerel clouds.  On each side of the roaring, flashing whirl that meant
the tractor, spread North Middlesex, with its fields fast diminishing to
the size of billiard tables. That patch no bigger than a garden-lawn,
with a row of wooden things like dog-kennels and chicken-coops, must
be—Bawne knew that it was—the aërodrome.  Deafened by the noise and a
little sick, for the roaring, striving, hurtling Thing in whose body he
sat fastened, stank horribly of castor oil, and seemed to agonise and
call on Bawne to suffer with it—he looked up and took courage from the
warm, blue, beautiful, cheerful sky.

He was quitting himself like a man.  Nobody could say otherwise.  How
high, how much higher was the Bird going to climb?

                            *CHAPTER XXXII*

                         *ADVENTURE IN THE AIR*

He looked down, and under his feet, left of the long transparent case
that housed the horizontal hovering gear, was a little steel-framed
glass port.  Seen through this, the ground with its trees, fields and
houses, hurried along beneath him as though a comet, travelling in the
opposite direction, had been harnessed to our old earth, and was towing
her away.

The floor of the cockpit suddenly altered its angle.  It had tilted
upwards.  Now it tilted all to one side.  Sick and dizzy, but secure,
the boy hung in his straps as she lay over, and saw on his left hand a
wing of the Bird rising and blotting out the heavens, while on his right
hand the earth reared up so horribly that Bawne could only shut his eyes
tight and hold on to the arms-straps of his seat, and gasp out a little
prayer.  Then the cockpit floor became more level, and the wind buffeted
less.  The roar of the tractor and the twanging drone of the wires made
one’s bones hum and tingle to the very ends of one’s teeth and
finger-tips. But nothing had happened.  Perhaps nothing would!

He drew a great breath of relief, and his heart left off bumping.  His
mouth was cold inside and his tongue felt dry and stiff.  Only Our Lord
and Our Lady and his guardian Angel had seen him funky, and for this
Bawne was grateful.  They understood, and—people—would not.

He guessed it about a quarter to six o’clock.  By the genial warmth on
one cheek and shoulder, and the way his shadow stretched over the pale
grained ash-wood that lined the cock-pit, he knew the west must be upon
the left.

He raised himself, craning his neck, and through the low wind screen
behind him, against the background of a sky all flaming and boiling with
molten gold and liquid amber, he saw the wide square shoulders and tall
helmeted head of von Herrnung, the hard eyes staring unflinchingly
through their round glass goggles, the mouth set in a straight
inflexible line under the tight red roll of the moustache.

The red-moustached mouth opened, and von Herrnung shouted something.
Nothing reached the boy but a sort of muffled roar.  He shook his head
vigorously, and then—one does not wear the Signaller’s Badge for
nothing!—released a stiff little gloved hand from its grip on the
arm-rest, and rapped out with his clenched right fist on the edge of the


The Code was understood.  The helmeted head, some four feet distant,
nodded.  One of von Herrnung’s gauntleted hands freed itself from the
steering-bar.  Its knuckles drubbed out the question:

"Have you the brown satchel?"

Bawne had quite forgotten the brown satchel.  He screwed back his head
and looked down and there it was, lying on the numb knees of him,
buckled to him by the tough strap of pigskin that held him in his seat.
He nodded assent, and signalled:

"All right!"

"Good!" von Herrnung signalled back through the hurly-burly of the
Bird’s transit.  Bawne mustered courage to knock out:

"Where are we?  When shall we go down?"

Von Herrnung’s right hand lifted itself, and described a sweeping
half-circle.  The brusque gesture answered Bawne’s first question,
bidding him look and see.

The boy, impeded in his view by reason of his small proportions,
wriggled in his straps so as to get his chin well over the gunwale of
the Bird’s fuselage and the buffetting wind that was dug up and spaded
over her bows by the dizzying revolutions of the tractor, got hold of
him and pummelled and buffetted him again.  Her course was still north,
the sun was setting in great smoking lakes of gold and sulphur on her
left as she flew.  Thick patches of dark green bushes that probably were
woods, reddish-green blotches that might be heathy commons, shiny,
square patches that he guessed at as reservoirs, toybox villages that
were thriving suburban boroughs, specks that were villas, glittering
ribbons that suggested canals, and one broad shiny stripe that was a
river with tiny boats upon it, were swirling from right to left,
sweeping along in the opposite direction, under the rushing body of the
winged thing that bore him, ruled by the hand of von Herrnung upon the

Behind her a chaotic, formless greyness brooded on the horizon,
innumerable spires rose out of it and a glittering haze hung over all.
That was London, the great grimy Mother of Cities tearing away from her
little son at eighty miles an hour.  The shriek of an engine and the
rumble of a train reduced by distance to infinite tenuity pulled the
boy’s eyes downwards.  A weeny mechanical toy that meant one of the
double-humped colossi of steam traction, dragging a string of match-box
goods trucks, raced another locomotive, towing a crowded passenger-train
neck and neck along the spider-fine perspective of gossamers that meant
the Great Eastern Railway.  Now fear was swamped in the sheer joy of the
experience.  This thin air that kept you perpetually gulping and
swallowing saliva, made you feel more than ever how good it is to be

Billows and billows of green, interspersed with patches of purple
heather, meant Epping Forest, though he did not know it.  A great
aggregation of grey walls and housetops, looking like a section of an
old wasp’s nest, stood for Waltham Abbey as the Bird drove on.  Quite a
tangle of the shiny grey-blue streaks that were rivers meant Lea and
Orwell, Ouse, and their trouty tributaries.  East England rolled away
underneath like an endless carpet woven in irregular patches of many
hues.  Green and brown, grey and yellow, and innumerable shades of
these, so tempting in their suggestions of good things to eat that a
most unheroic hunger reminded the schoolboy of tea-time, hours and hours
gone by.

He looked round in search of von Herrnung, who maintained unchanged the
same attitude, his shoulders level, his unseen hands steady as rock upon
the wheel of the steering-pillar, his mouth shut tightly, his hard eyes
ranging ahead or lowered, as he conned his course in masterly fashion by
aid of the roller-map, protected by its transparent, rainproof casing,
or the compass, clock, altimeter, and other instruments gimballed in the
wooden frame in front of the pilot’s seat.

"How long?" the small fist rapped out.  Von Herrnung detached a hand and
signalled in answer:

"One hour!"

"When do we go home?"

"We go home now!" the hand signalled, and the boy settled down in his
seat to wait.

Between hunger and weariness he dozed, and soon slept soundly, his hands
hanging laxly over the leather arm-rests and his head nodding over the
brown satchel lying on his knees.  It figured in his dreams as something
huge, oppressive and uncanny, that suddenly took to itself malevolent
life, spread a pair of wide leathery bat-wings, and would have flown
away but that he gripped it fast.

"No, no!  You shan’t!  I promised!" he heard himself crying, and
suddenly the thing collapsed limply in his grasp and became nothing but
a satchel, and he was awake. Awake and very stiff and rather sick and
sleepy, and with the salt smell in his nostrils and the salt taste in
his mouth that meant—that could only mean the Sea.

He looked over the gunwale and cried out in astonishment. For a vast
carpet of rounded woolly-grey-white clouds lay spread beneath.  The
carpet beginning to rise and the cockpit floor to incline downwards, a
thin clammy fog suddenly blotted out everything.  The Bird had dived
through a field of woolpack mixed with ground-fog.  Now flying some
hundred feet beneath it, she regained her level, in the clear light
stained by the sunset as water in which a dash of red wine is mingled,
the light that is the aftermath of a radiant summer’s day.  And, with
the smell of the sea sharper in his nostrils, the boy became aware of
moving, muddy-grey water, with ships and boats and steamers on it, far
down below.

Now the southerly breeze that had steadily tagged on some twenty-three
miles an hour to the Bird’s eighty odd, began to veer and come in
strengthening puffs and gusts from the north-west.  Swirling eddies of
air came upwards from the water, rocking the machine as a swell takes a
boat at sea, and splashed upon the frail, silk-covered wings of the
aëroplane in deluges of invisible spray.

On the right hand and the left were wide stretches of muddy grey salt
water, banks of sand, and drain-piped foreshore merging in patches of
potato and swede and yellow squares of unripe corn.  Clusters of white
dots, where shingle and sea-walls bordered the drab, restless water,
were fishing hamlets, villages and little coal-port towns. Upon the
north bank, rapidly receding in distance, could be dimly sensed, beyond
a dense fringe of masts standing close as pins in rows upon a
pincushion, the oblongs and squares and rectilinears of docks and
shipyards, stone quays, and piers and tide-basins, mixed up with blocks
and streets of sheds and warehouses, stations and goods-yards, and huge,
many windowed factories, whose towering chimneys yet belched forth thick
black smoke-gouts, licked by red tongues of flame.  Though even if the
Saturday noon steam-siren had not silenced the throbbing of pneumatic
rivetting-hammers and the roaring of steam coal-shoots, hydraulic grain
dischargers and oil-pumps, and all the hellish hubbub accompanying the
huge export and import trade of Yorkshire and Lancashire with North
Europe and the Continent, these sounds would not have reached the ears
of the boy in the aëroplane save as a dull and muffled murmur, vaguely
sensed, through the musical moaning of the stay-wires and the racket of
the tractor-screw.

Now the sunset was behind.  The land was rushing back upon the right and
left-hand.  The two-mile-wide river was broadening to a great estuary,
vaster than the Thames, between Fort Victoria and Shoeburyness.

Long crawling strings of linked-up barges, sailing vessels of the old
windjammer type and yachts of the latest rig, battered tramp and collier
steamers, high-sided rusty looking oil-tankers, pilot-cutters,
coastguard motor-launches, whole fleets of steam-trawlers, thrashed up
and down its broad south side fairways or cannily negotiated the
treacherous channels of the north bank.  Ocean-going giants of the
Merchant Service, flaunting the White Bordered Jack, or the Red Duster,
or under Admiralty Warrant, displaying the Blue Ensign.  Behemoths of
the North Sea passenger-service showing the three-striped merchant-flag
of Germany—or the tricolour of the Netherlands, or the Crosses of
Norway, Sweden and Denmark—with more rarely some big grey armoured
cruiser upon harbour and Coastal Defence Service, or a brace of stumpy,
square-ended patrol-boats, or a trio of the stinging black hornets we
have learnt to call torpedo-boat destroyers, ranging in company upon
some business of the Powers that order Britannia’s naval affairs.

Fascinating, wonderful to look down upon.  Alike, however diverse in
size, shape or uses, in the impression of flat unsubstantiality conveyed
to you—together with the doubt that the emmets crawling upon them could
possibly be life-sized men.  A drifting daisy-petal meant a smart
private steam-yacht.  You looked down from two thousand feet above, on
the open-lidded snuffboxes that signified the fire-control and
signalling-stations of some Leviathan of the Home Fleet, and a string of
black holes jabbed in an oval of floating white millboard represented
her funnels, black discs or white alternately stood for her ventilators;
and her imposing deckworks, her turrets or barbettes, her gun-houses and
casemates, and the terrible monsters bloodthirstily nosing out of them,
were reduced to a more or less symmetrical arrangement in thick or thin
black lines.

The rosy light was greying.  The gusts came more fitfully. To the south,
upon the right hand, were stone-built fortifications with black muzzles
of big guns poking from the ramparts, over stretches of salty marsh,
drab-coloured mud-flats, and slimy rocks covered with blackened seaweed,
sticking up from pale silvery sand-shoals, licked by the restless white
tongues of the outgoing tide, and bumped by stranding buoys.  Black dots
and grey dots wheeled and scurried and settled.  Crows and gulls were
feeding ravenously as the tide drew off the flats and sand-shoals.  And
by the queer sensation in his empty stomach, Bawne knew that he too was

From the beaconed north shore of the vast estuary basin, edged now by
low rambling cliffs, and belts of shingle and sand, a long curving
headland with two lighthouses at the crook-end, rushed now towards the
Bird at what seemed the speed of an express train.  Bawne winced as the
tall granite towers, topped with helmet-shaped domes of rust-red iron,
rose up like twin giants threatening to destroy.  An iron balcony with a
flagstaff and signal-mast ringed the base of each dome-top, a stairway
spiralled round each shaft to a railed stone platform well above
high-water mark.  And a shrimp-sized man in a red guernsey waved a speck
of blue handkerchief, and bellowed a disproportionately loud greeting
through what was presumably a megaphone.  In reality the
lighthouse-keeper was indicating the M. O. cone storm-signal which hung
point downwards from the west end of the yard-arm, presaging a
south-west or north-westerly gale. Whether or no this warning was lost
upon von Herrnung, proof of its value followed.  For a great upleaping
billow of brine-tasting wind caught the Bird as she flashed past the
twin lighthouses upon the headland, tossing her upwards like a withered
leaf.  And a curved iron shutter in the nearer of the two rust-red
dome-tops rolled down exactly as the nictitating membrane of a bird’s
eye does—and with a wink of glass from the prismatic reflector, a broad
triple beam of blinding-white acetylene light leaped north, east and
south.  In the same instant upon each side of the flashing tractor, the
boy sensed a vast, shimmering, liquid restlessness.  Here was the Sea,
the very Sea.

                            *CHAPTER XXXIII*

                        *BAWNE LEARNS THE TRUTH*

Something in the blood of the child answered to the call of the Ancient
Mother.  He cried out, half in terror, half in delight, and the cockpit
tilted so suddenly that he was violently jerked against the seat-back
and the canvas bulkhead behind him.  Looking up he saw a large old moon
of luminous yellow, sailing away overhead through a sky all shot with
pink and grey as though hollowed out of a fire-opal. The Bird was
rushing through space at ninety miles an hour, and great lumps of cold
salt wind splashed over Bawne and took his breath away, and his hands
were numbed with bitter cold and his legs were legs of ice.

So brave a spirit dwelt in his little breast, that the sob that heaved
it and the tears that stung his eyelids and dimmed his goggles, were
swallowed and blinked away as soon as shed.  The cockpit became level,
and there was an imperious rapping behind him, on the upper canvas deck.
He turned his head and met the hard unflinching stare of von Herrnung,
who held in the hand with which he had rapped a bitten piece of
chocolate.  Still munching he signalled:


He smiled grimly as the boy nodded in the affirmative, stuffed the bit
of sweetstuff into his mouth, produced from its cache below the level of
the upper deck another square of chocolate, tore off the silver foil
with his teeth, and crunched it greedily.

He smiled, because of a queer tickling pleasure he felt as he did this,
akin to the sensation experienced when his taunts had tortured Patrine.
"Take care of my dearest!" he fancied he could hear her saying....  Not
until she had committed herself to that incautious utterance, had he,
von Herrnung, realised what rich vengeance on the desired, hated woman
might be wreaked by the simple act of carrying off the boy, whom he had
regarded until then as a mere bag of ballast; less useful, but certain
to prove less troublesome, than the Cockney-tongued Welshman, who might
or might not carry a cheap revolver in the hip-picket under his overalls
with which to enforce his protest against being taken away.

Von Herrnung was himself armed with a Browning automatic pistol.  A
deadly shot, he would have been capable of dealing with half a dozen
Davises upon the solid ground. But, no lover of avoidable risks, he saw
himself steering with one hand and shooting with the other, while Davis
sat astride the chair in the observer’s cockpit, and argued with an
eighteen-and-sixpenny Birmingham four-chamber, loaded with the cheap
little cordite cartridges, whose pea-sized bullet can kill a fine big

"What is this?  You are sick?"

Even while keeping his ears open and his eyes skinned, as he negotiated
the Bird through a choppy cross-current, conning his course between the
compass and the roller-chart-map, now illuminated by an electric bulb,
his great shoulders shook with merriment as he saw the boy’s head sink
helplessly against the side of the fuselage, and his small body
convulsed by throes of the sickness that is indistinguishable from the
dismal malady of the sea.  He had shut off the engine to shout to him.
And in the sudden cessation of the tractor’s racket, the deep organ note
of the waters rolled in upon the hearing, mingled with the shrill piping
of the wires and the ruffle of the freshening wind.  As he switched on
power once more, the broad white ray from the Bull Light leaped forth
again and caught them as it ran eastwards over the tumbling
white-crested billows, flinging a huge shadow of von Herrnung over the
canvas-covered space of deck before him and showing him to the
white-faced boy who had twisted round once more to look at him, as a
featureless human torso shaped out of solid ebony with diamond specks
for eyes and gleams of grinning ivory teeth.

"When are we going home?  Why are we over the sea now?"

Von Herrnung shut off again for the luxury of hearing and answering:

"I have told you because we are going home.  Our home is—Germany.  You
will not be an English boy but German, once I have got you there!"

The shrill cry of anger that came from the open mouth of the white face
was lost to him in the necessity of switching on the engine.  He nodded
pleasantly to the white face and, in the darkness of his own shadowy
visage, there was the glimmer of a laugh.  Then he applied himself to
other business, for the tide would turn in an hour, and then the wind
might blow hellishly from the nor’-west.  Flying lower, he knew his
course the true one, for the white headlight and green starboard-lights
of a big steamer pricked twinkling holes in the thick grey dusk to
northward on his port beam.  He told himself she was one of the Elbe
Company’s big bluff-bowed liners making from Newcastle for Hamburg
Docks.  The stern-lights of a sister-ship hailing from Grimsby, by her
steerings, were also discernible in the mirk ahead, while the lights
from her tiers of cabins made her look like a black water-beetle with
golden legs, hurriedly scuttling over the sea.  Following the course of
the Hamburg-bound liners, even if one failed to make connection with
one’s accredited pilot, it would not be long before one picked up Borkum
Riff Lightship and in due course, spiring silver grey against the
pink-and-golden sunrise—the twin towers of Nordeich Wireless—marking the
journey’s end.

                            *CHAPTER XXXIV*

                          *THE BROWN SATCHEL*

The journey’s end.  A gust, tearing the mist that veiled the livid
waters, showed the shadowy shapes of a procession of battleships,
steaming southwards in single line.

You see the German assailed by the wind, now hard on the aëroplane’s
port beam, craning over, counting the speedlights passing diagonally
underneath.  Eight steel Leviathans, stabbing bright points of electric
light through fog and funnel-smoke, with an effect of diamonds seen
against a background of dull grey plush.

Eight rushing, neutral-tinted shapes—conveying a formidable impression
of grim power, and force, and ruthlessness. A Squadron of Battle
Cruisers of the British Home Fleet, new from the brine of Lerwick
Waters, or the fierce green surges of Scapa Flow.  Bound for Harwich
Roads or Sheerness, or the Solent, to figure in the huge pageant of
steel and steam, electricity, and man-power that would be called the
King’s Review.

What a chance, supposing _Der Tag_ were come already, for the delivery
of a consignment of bombs!  It warmed like a draught of wine, to think
of the devastating effect of a couple of such German love-gifts,
exploded in the bowels of one of those steel monsters, packed with
complex machinery, high explosives, and inflammable oil.  True, there
might be a reverse to the medal, damping even to the spirits of a
Superman.  Wireless signals would go forth at the order of one amongst a
little knot of dark figures on the forebridge of the Flagship, warning
each of those grey monsters of its danger.  Not an armoured cruiser
scouting for them on the horizon, not one of all the torpedo-boat
destroyers in their vicinity, not a submarine nosing in the thick cold
darkness below the restless white crests, but would join in the man-hunt
that must ensue.

How the dusk would spring alive with the eyes of foes, and long rays of
searchlight would go probing, and the mobile noses of guns great and
lesser would be thrust from their hoods of proof-armour, sniffing
bloodthirstily for the enemy up in the sky.  While from the Flagship’s
mothering side, a Navy seaplane, armed with a Vickers’ machine-gun,
might swing out and plop upon the water, rise from the white snarl of
waves with a vicious scream of her propeller, and, keen as a
gull-hunting sea-hawk, launch herself in chase.

_Pfui_!  The thought made one sick at the stomach.  Cold, isolation, and
darkness tried a man, no matter how courageous. Buffeted by the bitter
wind, aching and stiff with weariness, lonely with the loneliness of
some small bird of the migratory order, outstripped by its companions on
the wild journey over the North Sea, the Kaiser’s messenger drew energy
and cheer from the conviction that the dispatches entrusted to him by
Imperial favour were such as would hasten the arrival of The Day.

The Day, to which all good German officers devoted the second toast on
Mess nights.  When the Black Eagle would swoop, and the nodding
witch-hag Britannia would awaken from her whisky-dreams of
World-Dominion to find her armour obsolete, her sword rusted in its
scabbard, the trident of Sea Power stolen from her hand.

Hurrah! for The Day when the programme arranged by the All Highest War
Lord and his War Chiefs should be carried out in the complete overthrow
of British Supremacy, the seizure and domination of British territory,
the solution of the Great German Race Problem, in the transformation of
the United Kingdom into a German dependency,—the annexation of India and
the British Colonies—and the forcible Teutonisation of the hated race.

Aha!  Much to be locked in an Imperial messenger’s letter-bag, thought
von Herrnung, greedily.  What in the way of guerdon might not be
lavished by a gratified All Highest upon the danger-braving and
to-duty-fearlessly-devoted Flying Officer who should accomplish the
Secret Mission, and lay the brown satchel at the Imperial feet.

Probably the Second—tchah!—the First Class of the Iron Cross—with
military promotion, and a handsome sum in hard cash.  Laudatory articles
in the State-inspired Press organs and Service Gazettes presently.
Meanwhile, was it fitting that the future of von Herrnung should lie,
not upon the knees of the gods, but on the lap of a little, seasick
English boy?

True, the brown satchel was firmly strapped to the boy, now lying in an
attitude of complete exhaustion, with one arm thrown over the gunwale,
and his small round head feebly nodding to and fro.  The child knew
nothing of the Imperial dispatches.  And yet—one would have been wiser
to keep the bag about one, in spite of the danger of fouling the

It will be gathered that a chilly premonition of imminent disaster
crawled in the veins of the Kaiser’s messenger. Hunger and fatigue were
spurring von Herrnung to imaginativeness unworthy of a Superman.

Now he knew his frail winged craft beset by cunning, treacherous
enemies; the invisible air that cradled and supported her, only waiting
to destroy.  Other elemental forces, Gale, Lightning, Hail,
Waterspout—in collusion to bring about her swift and speedy ruin.  The
Sea, no less than these, was an implacable adversary, reaching up
innumerable greedy hands to drag her down and drown. The hawk-hoverer
would have been a help at this juncture if one had had some previous
experience in the use of it. As things were, it was wiser to leave the
Englishman’s invention alone.  A labouring beat admonished the man’s
quick ear of impending engine-trouble.  Ah, if the motor, that was the
living heart in the aëroplane, should break down at this juncture, or
the human intelligence perched behind the roaring tractor falter, the
game was up.  Kaput for von Herrnung, he very well knew.

As though the very fear had brought on the catastrophe, the revolutions
dropped.  Below 1000, said the indicator’s trembling finger, and there
was a miss.  The bang!—bang! of a back-fire followed.  If one had
believed in God, now, this would have been the time to pray to Him.

But now the aviator’s keen eye, peering downwards through Sherbrand’s
binoculars, picked up something that had emerged with a sudden yeasty
swirl among the white-crested waves.  No handsomer nor bigger than an
under-sized steam-trawler, the casual observer might as such have
accepted her.  But a moment more, and fore and aft of the stocky little
pseudo-steamer, stretched the long snaky, whitey-brown hull of a

U-18, on observation-service off Spurn Head, or a Britisher?  An Evans
signalling-pistol, loaded, and with a supply of spare rockets, was fixed
in a cleat beside the instrument-board, within reach of the pilot’s
hand.  The altimeter, illuminated by the electric bulb, gave an altitude
of six hundred, as von Herrnung snatched the pistol, and fired, aiming
towards the sky.

The shot was followed by a second detonation, and a brilliant crimson
light illuminated the grey welter, throwing up orange balls of fire as
it ascended, to burst in showers of incandescent sparks.  Switching off,
von Herrnung strained both ears and eyes for an answer to his signal.
With the cessation of the motor the diapason of the North Sea rolled
upwards through the twilight with a threatening of storm. As the
weather-cone had presaged, a gale was coming.  It blew strongly from the
north-west.  The engine back-fired again, and von Herrnung swore at it,
trying to make out the nationality of the submarine running on the
surface six hundred feet below.  There were half-a-dozen tallish figures
on the narrow man-railed catwalk running along her hull forward, and one
upon the screened-in platform of her humpy conning-tower.

Then the blue-white ray of a searchlight leaped forth illuminating her
bows and forward torpedo-tubes—revealing the long neutral-coloured hull
with the Wireless mast raised for use and soapy seas hissing off the
armour-plate. A backwash of brilliance picked out the
black-white-and-red Jack of Germany, fluttering from a short pole-mast
sternwards.  Signal-lights of white and two colours broke out upon
another slender mast aft of her conning-tower, and winked and jabbered.
U-18 was in touch with her man.

It was quite time, for the Bird’s engine hiccupped more and more
disastrously, and her pilot’s frozen hands could only guess the
steering-wheel.  He grunted relief. _Sapperlot_!  One’s star had not
deserted one.  Once more the Prussian Field-Flying Service would, with
reason, quote von Herrnung’s hellish good-luck.

Meanwhile the submarine’s three lights chattered volubly in German Navy
Code.  Do Not Attempt Make Harbour. Heavy Weather Coming.  Original
Orders Cancelled. Heave To.  Will Stand By To Take You Aboard.  To which
von Herrnung, keeping pace with U-18, replied with long and short
flashes of an electric signalling-torch. Understood!  What Is the Sea
Like?  Keep Off and On.  Am Coming Down!

And he came forthwith.  The Commander of U-18, standing on the little
platform over which furious seas were slashing, watched him critically
through a pair of Zeiss binoculars.  You, too, are asked to see him;
pulling round the Bird’s head into the teeth of the nor’wester; shutting
off her hiccupping engine, implacably thrusting her nose seawards, and
diving with a splendid swoop into the widening paths of spirals that
ended amidst the angry surges below.

Hitting the North Sea with so shattering a slap that the Bird’s
landing-carriage crumpled and buckled, and the frail spars of her wings
crunched like the bones of a small bird in the jaws of a hungry cat.

A fierce green sea leaped, towered, and broke, dumping a ton of water on
von Herrnung, and knocking the breath out of the man.  He tore open the
safety-belt as consciousness left him, and recovered in the warm
benzine-flavoured stuffiness of the officer’s cabin aboard the U-18, to
the stinging of schnapps in his mouth and gullet, and the cheer of
German words in his ear.

"Hey now, hey now, we are coming about.  That is well! Drink another
draught, comrade!  You have had a hellishly narrow squeak.  Another
time, when flying oversea with dispatches, start early, pick your
weather, and ship a life-belt, if you are wise!"

Thus Lieutenant Commander Luttha of Undersea-boat No. 18.  You see him
as a spare, weather-bitten, black-bearded officer in a full panoply of
yellow oilies, and a sou’wester shading little eyes, sharp as
lancet-points and now twinkling with his bit of fun.

But the word "dispatches," coupled with the jest about the life-belt,
volted through von Herrnung like the discharge from an electric battery.
He gulped and choked, collecting enough tinned air to talk with, and at
last got out:

"The boy—the boy, with the satchel!  Where is he, in the devil’s name?"

Thus adjured the Commander answered pithily:

"If you mean the half-drowned little English rat Petty Officer Stoll
found washing about in the bows of your aviatik, he’s alive.  Don’t
worry about that!"

Through the churning foam upon his lips, von Herrnung spluttered

"_Himmelkreüzbombenelement_!  What is the _verdammt_ boy to me?  It is
the satchel that was strapped about the boy’s middle I am asking for—the
Emperor’s—_Herr Gott!_—I shall go mad!"

He staggered to his feet, hitting his head a stunning crack against the
low white painted overdeck.  The incautious reference to the Emperor
electrified those who heard, squatting on the little folding bunks, or
kneeling on the palpitating deck of the little officer’s cabin, into
desperate activity.  Von Herrnung found himself boosted up a ladder and
through a manhole, guided along a narrow slippery catwalk, washed by the
surges of the North Sea, to where a collapsible boat was being emptied
of a lot of shipped salt water, and the battered wreck of the Bird of
War, lashed to the U-18’s forward man-rail, was waiting the Commander’s
order to be finally abandoned to her fate.

                             *CHAPTER XXXV*

                           *NUMBER EIGHTEEN*

They launched the collapsible, and ransacked every cranny of the Bird’s
waterlogged fuselage.  Not the ghost of a brown leather satchel rewarded
their feverish search. In the forward cockpit the belt swung loose, the
patent fastening had been opened by pulling the pin out.  Clearly the
boy had released himself when the Bird hit the sea.

"Let us go look at this boy!" suggested the Commander, on receiving the
news that the Kind had breathed, and vomited sea-water.  Luttha promptly
led the way to the men’s cabin, where Petty Officer Stoll and an
earringed first-class seaman were working over a little limp naked body,
outspread on the jiggetting deck-plates, in the raucous glare of the
electric light.

Bawne was questioned, but nothing could be got out of him just then,
except North Sea, so they wrapped him in a blue Navy blanket, and left
him in charge of Petty Officer Stoll.

"This is hellishly unfortunate, you must know, Count," said the
Commander, alone with von Herrnung in the vibrating steel box over the
upper accumulators, called the officers’ cabin, and separated from the
men’s quarters by a paper-thin sliding bulkhead of painted steel.  You
are asked to consider it furnished with seven narrow folding bunks, a
trestle-table about as wide and long as a coffin-lid, some folding
chairs, a marvellous array of charts on spring-rollers, fixed against
the steel walls, a row of wooden lockers, a chronometer and auxiliary
gyro-compass, several cylinders of oxylithe for respiratory emergencies,
an electric stove of small size, a log-book and writing materials, a
shelf of German literature, chiefly nautical reference-books; sets of
dominoes, a violin and a cornet, speaking-tubes and a telephone, a
gramophone and a giant cuspidor.

Von Herrnung, having swapped his water-logged flying-kit and soaked
underclothes for dry flannels lent by the Second-in-Command, topped off
with a pair of the Commander’s spare trousers, and a guernsey frock
belonging to the biggest man on board.  You can see him supplementing
the shortness of the trousers with a pair of long sea-boots: thrusting
his huge arms into the guernsey, beginning already to be superior to his
rescuers upon the strength of his family rank and wealth and his
flying-record, his bulk and handsomeness, and his magpie pearl.  He was
of the Prussian top-dog breed and let others know it, even whilst
smarting under his loss.  That he felt it was shown by the livid pallor
testifying to mental disquiet and physical exhaustion.  But he judged it
wisest to bluff, and did.

"The cursed machine would have drowned me if you had not arrived in the
nick of time," he said suggestively, smiling under the red moustache
that hung uncurled over his full sensual lips: "Suppose you say you
found me swimming in the water—the aëroplane having foundered—it is
merely rewording a report!"

"So many thanks!" ... returned the Commander, chewing hard at an
unlighted cigar, sending a jet of saliva into the cuspidor, and smiling
in a wry and dubious fashion. "But when I said things were hellishly
unfortunate, I meant unfortunate for you!"

He moved to the green baize-covered plank that served as a cabin table,
and took from a weighted document-file a pencilled paper-slip.

"As far as they concern you I will read you them as taken down by our
Wireless operator.  ’To Undersea-boat No. 18, on observation-duty off
Spurn Head.  Stand by to get in touch with, act pilot, and render aid if
necessary to German Imperial Secret Service Messenger, crossing to
Nordeich in British aëroplane.’  The message comes from the German
Embassy in London and the sender is Grand Admiral Prinz Heinrich.  I
have carried out my instructions to the letter. There is only _one_ man
going to be broken over this affair!"

Von Herrnung knew who the man was.  The Commander chewed some more of
his cigar, picked his oozing yellow oilskins off the deck, thrust
himself into them, crowned himself with his sou’wester, and said, taking
a farewell shot at the cuspidor:

"And to brew more thunder-beer for you is not my desire! I am sorry for
you, _bei Gott_!  But to make game of those who command me is not the
purpose for which I am commissioned, Herr Count.  Nor have I any
experience in doctoring reports.  I rate only as Lieutenant in the
Imperial German Navy—a man born of plain people—without fortune or even
_von_ before my family name!"

Von Herrnung sensed that he had bitterly offended the only human being
who could help him.  He apologised subserviently, and catching at the
straw afforded him by the Commander’s admission of poverty, offered him
the pickings of the wrecked aëroplane.

"For her instruments and signalling outfit—the seats and vacuum flasks
even—are well worth the having, and her engine and tractor will sell
for——" he named the sum in marks.  "There is a patent stabiliser under
her belly that I reserve for Majesty—the French have bought it or think
they have!"

The speaker rubbed his hands.  The hoverer might yet prove a sop for the
All Highest.  Imperial displeasure thus averted, all would go well.  He
added, feeling that he might actually afford the luxury of grumbling:

"As for me, I am what the English call ’fed up’ with special missions.
Conceive it.  I am at a Hendon Flying School,—chatting with a handsome
Englishwoman who has taken me for her lover—as I am waiting to get an
inkling of the sort of invention the French War Ministry think worth
buying for use in their Service Aëronautique.  I am summoned by a groom
of our Embassy to speak to some Excellencies—I follow and find myself
clicking my heels before Prinz Heinrich, von Moltke, and Krupp von
Bohlen in an Embassy auto-car—to be sent off at a moment’s notice in a
little cranky devil of an English monoplane—with secret dispatches for
the All Highest—on a journey over the North Sea.  With the barometer
falling and the hour past five meridian.  That’s my luck!"  The speaker
paused for breath.

Luttha said, pulling his black beard through his fingers with a crisp
sound, a trick of his when in meditation:

"There was no time to lose.  And you have a wonderful record for
long-distance flying.  And luck it was!—if you had been of my mind.
Tell me, did not _they_ give you plain instructions?"

"Do ’they’ ever speak plainly?" von Herrnung scoffed; and Luttha
answered calmly:

"Yes, to an ordinary man, who does not understand obscure language, they
would have said: ’Lieutenant Commander Luttha, here is a brown leather
satchel, with something inside it belonging to the Emperor.  You will
convey the satchel to Nordeich and deliver it to His Majesty’s hands.
And from the moment I entrust it to yours, it shall be close as your
very skin to you.  If you meet Death upon your errand, die with it next
your heart!’"

The speaker added with a wounding accent of irony:

"Perhaps that marks the difference between a plebeian and a nobleman!  I
would have lashed it to my body, under my clothing.  You strapped it
about the boy!  By the way, what is the boy?"

"The boy! ... Nothing! ... A piece of ballast, merely!"

Von Herrnung, warmed by dry clothes and exhibitions of schnapps, was
fast recovering his characteristic arrogance. He added, with a shrug and
a wave of the hand:

"As for the lost satchel, it may well be that duplicates of the
dispatches contained in it have been sent to the Emperor by another
messenger.  That is the usual method, perhaps you are not aware?"

"Duplicates exist, but in only one place on earth will you find them,
and that place is the London War Office!"

The Commander pitched his cigar-butt into the cuspidor, snapped the
three stud-clips that secured his yellow oilskin storm-coat, and dug his
piercing little eyes into von Herrnung’s as he asked:

"Have you never heard of the War-engine of Robert Foulis, the Scottish
sea-captain who first suggested to the British the use of steam as
applied to battle-ships, and invented the screw-propeller and the big
devil knows how many other things besides the mysterious, secret weapon
that Great Britain has kept hidden up her sleeve a hundred and
twenty-six years!  It was offered by Foulis, then Earl of Clanronald, in
1812, to the British Government, and it frightened people like the
drunken Regent and the Duke of York and Lord Mulgrave into refusing it.
It was offered again to their War Office at the time of their Crimean
War,—taken into consideration by the Duke of Newcastle and again
ejected,—because—_Grosse Gott!_—it was too inhuman! As though a weapon
that could end a War in a twinkling by sheer deadly effectiveness could
be anything but a boon to mankind.  _Pfui_!  Such hypocrisy makes me
vomit worse than thirty hours of submergence.  Not because of its
inhumanity has Britain stored up the old man’s war-engine. Out of
diplomacy, to brutalise the great Germanic nation into subservience
under the rod of Fear!"

Luttha and von Herrnung, otherwise antagonistic, were alike in their
rabid hatred of Great Britain.  Luttha had talked himself plum-coloured
and hoarse by now, but he went on, pounding the air with a knotty,
clenched fist:

"Thus it was well done on the part of the Kaiser’s secret agents to
steal Clanronald’s War Plan, on the brink of The Day to which we have
drunk so long!  Not the duplicates buried in the Whitehall
strong-vaults, see you!—but the originals from the muniment-room of the
Welsh castle, the country-seat of the present Earl.  Less than an hour
after you took flight from Hendon, London was alive and buzzing with the
tale! ... How do I know? ... Does not a man know everything with
Wireless?  And you, with no inkling that you carried for Germany—Victory
in the World-War that is coming—you who have lost Clanronald’s secret,
are a ruined man, _bei Gott_!"

He added, as von Herrnung broke out cursing and raving:

"As I have said, I pity you!—though you have tried to bribe me!—but it
will not do to talk of suicide, for I shall prevent that!  Your
cartridges are wetted—your revolver will not serve you.  And you will
not get a chance to drown yourself, for I am going to submerge.  My
fellows have got the flying-motor out of the stirrups and stowed it
away, with the auto-hoverer and the other things for the Emperor, whose
property they are!  Then we run, only periscopes showing, for the Gat of
Norderney.  There is a clear-dredged channel to Nordeich Harbour,
navigable in any tide.  You have to account there to the All Highest for
the satchel, or I, _bei Gott!_ must account to him for it and you!"

And Luttha slid back the steel door, passed through the narrow gangway
and shot up the narrow steel ladder to attend to affairs on deck.  Two
of his subordinates instantly replaced him.  On no account was von
Herrnung, the living proof of the Commander’s fidelity to his
instructions, to be left alone, you understand.

One would have said the Superman believed in God, he blasphemed Him so
industriously.  When he was quite spent and voiceless, the lieutenants
offered him practical sympathy in the shape of gingerbread and lager
beer.  He accepted the beer, and sat on one of the sofas drinking it and
brooding lividly, while Undersea-boat No. 18, with hermetically-sealed
hatches, folded down her signal and Wireless masts, shut off her 2000
h.p. Diesel oil engines, sucked water into her ballast-tanks, and with
only her periscopes showing above the surface, ran under her
electric-motor power for Norderney Gat and Nordeich quay.

Behind her as she sped, a red stain upon the angry waters gave back the
last rays of stormy sunset, smouldering out behind bars of drift-wrack,
beyond the bleak east-country beaches and the long blue-black, desolate

Von Herrnung’s private, personal sun was setting somewhat after the same
fashion, amidst sable clouds of Imperial wrath.  It was to sink below
the horizon in deepest disfavour, rise again in The Day’s gory dawning,
and fall, its evil fires quenched in a drenching rain of blood.

                            *CHAPTER XXXVI*

                             *HUE AND CRY*

Even as petrol and air mingled in the Bird’s cylinders, and Davis
rotated the tractor and nimbly leaped out of the way of sudden death,
the buff broadsheets of the _Evening Wire_ edged the kerbs of Fleet
Street and ran up Kingsway to High Holborn.  And from Ludgate Hill to
Charing Cross, Pall Mall, and Piccadilly Circus, the raucous voices of
newsboys yelled through a pelting hail of pence:

                        STOLEN FROM GWYLL CASTLE
                        THE CLANRONALD WAR-PLAN.
                        AN ECHO OF CRIMEAN DAYS.
                     THIEF KNOWN.  POLICE SANGUINE.

Strings of news-carts laden with bundles of papers were rattling east,
north, south, and west.  Trains were taking in the story by bales of
thousands and disgorging it at every stoppage, as Von Herrnung opened
the throttle, and the Bird raced a hundred yards or so, bumping like a
taxi going over a bad road, then rose into the air, as gracefully as a
mallard, and launched upon the first wide spirals of the aërial ascent.

The small audience interested in the aëroplane, her freight, and her
behaviour, watched her as she dwindled in the sight and died upon the
ear.  The spectators in the enclosure had departed in dribbles, the last
three-seater air-bus had rounded the aërodrome, landed and deposited the
last passengers.  Two or three over-enthusiastic students lingered, but
the rest had shed their grimy overalls and betaken themselves home.

The mellow light of late afternoon lay sweetly on the wide expanse of
treeless greensward and on the woods that tufted the horizon-line.
Rooks and starlings were wheeling over distant tree-clumps, the bands no
longer brayed or tootled, the mechanics were leaving the sheds and
hangars, the waitresses were hastening to other employments, such as
programme-vending at suburban music-halls and picture-theatres, the
selling of stale _boutonnières_ about the entrances of restaurants, the
serving of drinks and suppers at night-clubs and so on.

On the verge of the white-marked oval from which the Bird had taken her
departure, Saxham was standing with Patrine.  Their faces were lifted to
the sky as they talked together, and Sherbrand’s eyes were irresistibly
drawn to them, so heroic in mould, and so curiously alike.

There was a puzzled line between the Instructor’s thick, fair eyebrows.
He was ready to swear it was the same girl. But the face that had looked
into his that night in Paris was somehow softer, younger....  It was not
only the alteration in the colour of the hair....  If you had taken the
big, hearty, smiling young woman of the Milles Plaisirs, and dipped her
into a vat of hydrogen peroxide, so that not only her hair but her whole
body had been bleached, you would not have accomplished such a
transformation—unless the chemical had possessed the power to change the
colour of her mind and soul.

The girl of the Milles Plaisirs had looked at you frankly, and spoken to
you like a pal.  In that atmosphere of sexual excitement, amongst those
crowds of men and women, flushed with meat and wine and the desire of
sensual pleasure, she had appealed to Sherbrand like a heather-scented
breeze from the North.

Beautiful and big and sisterly, she had seemed to him who had no
sisters.  He had often wondered how she came to be in that place.  But
it had never occurred to him to lump her with the ordinary
pleasure-seeker.  He had read—more correctly than von Herrnung, who
believed her from the first to have bitten deep into the Fruit of
Knowledge—Purity if not ignorance, in her wide curving smile, and
honesty in her clear unshadowed eyes.

What eyes they were, long, brilliant, blackly-lashed, browny-green as
agate.  What a wonderful voice came out of the depths of her splendid
chest.  The arch of her breastbone reminded you of a violoncello.  How
splendidly her head was set upon its column of warm, living ivory!  Her
firm round chin had a dint in it that the old Greek sculptor had failed
to bestow upon the glorious Venus de Melos, the Lady of the Isle of
Music.  Everything about her was planned on the scale of magnificence.
Six feet tall, she walked the earth like a goddess, or as women must
have walked when the Sons of Light mated with the daughters of men.

Thus Sherbrand, meditating on his Fate to be, while Destiny limped
towards him in the person of an undersized telegraph-clerk whose
complexion, previously pallid, had deteriorated to dirty green.  He
began, extending a shaky hand, from which dangled a slip of limp paper:

"For you, sir.  Rumball ’adn’t got a picklock among his tools, so ’e
burst in the door with a No. 10 spanner.  They rung us up about twenty
times while he was at the job. And the message is important, sir!"

"I’ll see!  Thank you, Burgin!"

Sherbrand took the telegram from the jerky hand and read:

robbery—documents—national—importance.  At—all—

The Chief’s name at the end was the nail that clinched the thing.  But
the cry of Macrombie’s undersized assistant was the hammer-blow that
drove the nail to the quick.  His sharp eye, following the climbing
aëroplane, had seen her flatten and swing about and leap forwards,
exactly as the carrier-pigeon strikes out its line of flight for home.

"My Gawd," he yelped out.  "See there!  Blimy, if the —’s not done us!
Bunked it by air to Kaiserland while I was spellin’ out the screed.
Gone with the Bird—the Bird and the ’overing gear.  My Gawd!  Wot’s to
be done?"

"Shut your head on what you know!" said Sherbrand’s voice in the pale
clerk’s ear as Sherbrand’s hand fell ungently on his shoulder.  "You’ve
done your best!  It’s not your fault if luck was on the other side!
But—"  His eyes went to the Doctor’s great figure standing beside the
tall white shape with the hat of twinkling silver.  "But the boy!"  A
sickness swirled up in him and a dizziness overtopped it.  He caught at
and gripped the clerk’s thin shoulder to keep himself upright.  "My God!
How shall I break it to the Doctor," Sherbrand asked himself, "if that
German fellow has carried off the boy?"

"Steady-O!  Ketch on to me, sir....  Nobody’s looking!" said the
telegraph clerk.  He was a hero-worshipper on a robust scale and
Sherbrand his chosen deity.  "This ain’t our young Boss givin’ in, but
just his empty inside playin’ tricks on him," he assured himself.  To
Sherbrand he said humbly: "If you’d come over to the cabin there’s hot
cocoa and toke there.  Grub’ll steady you, if you’ll excuse me taking
the liberty of saying so—and you can’t do nothing till he comes!"

The person to whom Burgin referred had passed the entrance-gates, almost
before the sentence left the lips of the clerk.  Now his alert, upright
figure came in sight, briskly turning the corner of the restaurant, and
wrought to the point of ironic merriment by the greatness of the blow
that had fallen on him, Sherbrand shook off his dizziness and faintness,
straightened his tall body, clapped both hands to his mouth, and gave
the huntsman’s view-halloo:

"_Stole away!  Stole—awa-aay!_"

Small cause for mirth, and yet he laughed, pointing to the dwindling
speck high upon the north horizon that represented the worldly prospects
of Sherbrand, and a handsome sum in cash.  The Bird, just then entering
a broad belt of gold-white mackerel-cloud, was lost to view in another
instant.  But the Chief had wheeled upon the pointing gesture, and seen,
and understood.

Then he was upon them, saying in accents jarred with anger:

"How was this allowed to happen?  You were warned. You had my wire?"

Sherbrand’s mouth was wrung awry with another spasm of mirthless
laughter.  He fought it back and held out the crumpled slip of paper,

"I did, but luck was on _his_ side.  Thanks to a relapse on Macrombie’s
part, I got this after the Bird had flown."

"The Bird..."

The blue-grey eyes and the keen hazel met, and struck a spark between

"’The Bird.’  He has taken French leave—or, more appropriately,
German—by the help of your machine?"

Sherbrand nodded, setting his teeth grimly.  The wailing voice of the
pallid clerk came in like a refrain:

"’Ooked it.  Bunked—so ’elp me Jimmy Johnson! With our young guv’nor’s
mono’, and the gyro ’overer!"

Said the Chief, moving sharply towards where the Wireless mast straddled
over the telegraph-cabin:

"He has adopted the only means of exit by which it was possible for him
to escape.  All railways stations are being watched, all highways
patrolled by our agents, travelling in high-powered motor-cars.  We are
on the look-out for him at every ocean shipping-port.  One road we left
open, not having the means to block it—and that is the road of the stork
and the swan!  Decidedly, I might have guessed that he would play Young
Lochinvar after this fashion.  But until I left the ground an hour ago I
did not know of the theft of the Clanronald Plan."

"The Clanronald—" Sherbrand was beginning, when the Chief cut him short.

"I had forgotten that you are as little wise as I was an hour back.
Better glance at this paragraph while I make use of your O. T.
installation and Wireless, and put the fear of Heaven into Macrombie,
incidentally and by the way."

He thrust a tightly-folded copy of the _Evening Wire_ upon Sherbrand and
vanished into the rum-flavoured stuffiness of the cabin, with the pallid
telegraph clerk close upon his heels.  And upon Sherbrand, in the act of
unfolding the newspaper, rushed his Fate, in a hat of silver spangles:
challenging the knowledge in him with blazing eyes well upon the level
of his own.

"Mr. Sherbrand....  Tell me what has happened? Why do you look so—queer

She herself was whiter than her narrow dress, and the mouth the eager
rush of words poured from was pale under its rose-tinted salve.  She
hurried on breathlessly:

"They show no signs of coming back—it fidgets me horribly.  And—I was
looking—from over there, where I was with Uncle Owen,—when you called
out, ’Stole away!’ and waved your arm."  She glanced at the sky,
shuddered and looked back at him.  "Am I silly?  But all the same, the
General told you something!  I don’t ask what!  But I funk—I don’t know
why, but it’s beastly—the sensation! Tell me I’ve nothing to be afraid
of—I swear I’ll take your word!"

That she was just then a creature full of fears was written large upon
her.  She might have quoted Queen Constance, who I think was also a
galumpher, meaning a woman of big build and sweeping gestures, and an
imperious temper withal.  Sherbrand feared also, and the pang of
solicitude for the pretty boy so unexpectedly dragged into the vortex of
a diplomatic and political felony was, to do him credit, quite as sharp
as the pang caused him by the rape of the Bird.

He answered:

"Miss Saxham, I do not believe that there is any danger of an accident.
But—that there will be delay—I shall not try to disguise.  The fact

A guttural, Teutonic voice said close at Sherbrand’s shoulder.

"_Gnädiges Fräulein_ will wish to return home?  It is getting late, so
very late!  I haf instructions from my master to drive the _Fräulein_
back to her address."

Sherbrand wheeled, to be confronted by the thickset figure of the
moustached and uniformed attendant who had occupied the seat beside the
chauffeur of the big blue F.I.A.T. car.

"Who is this?" he demanded in a look, and Patrine, her pallor drowned in
a scarlet blush of horrible embarrassment, stammered:

"I really—haven’t the least idea!"

"You hear!"  Sherbrand’s tone was not pleasant.  "The lady does not know
you—that ought to be enough!"

Patrine felt herself drowning in chill waves of horror. The man

"The lady is a friend of the gentleman who brought her here....  I haf
my orders to drive the lady home in the yellow car!"

In his muddy eyes there flickered a leer or a menace. Patrine saw the
Doctor coming and flew to his side. Sherbrand said, looking sternly at
the German:

"You understand, your orders are nothing to the lady. She does not
choose to be driven home by you!"

The man protested:

"But my master——"

Sherbrand demanded:

"Who is your master?"  Then a sudden light dawned upon him, and he
turned and knocked sharply at the cabin-door. At which the liveried
attendant, as a man who finds hesitancy a double-edged weapon, wheeled
in military fashion and retreated, casting a surly glance over his
shoulder, and quickening his heavy footsteps to a jog-trot as the
General’s active person appeared at Sherbrand’s side.

"That man, Sir Roland!"  Sherbrand’s slight gesture indicated the
thickset figure now getting hurriedly into the yellow Darracq.  He
added, as the car swirled round the corner of the restaurant and
vanished in the direction of the entrance-gates, "Ought I to have
grabbed the brute, and hung on to him?  He was certainly with a party of
foreign-looking people, who interviewed von Herrnung just before he got
away.  You saw them?"

"I certainly saw them.  And I agree with you that their unexpected
appearance has had to do with their countryman’s sudden departure," said
the Chief.  "But to grab an orderly of the German Embassy would be—only
less risky than grabbing a Kaiser’s messenger, on suspicion of his
carrying stolen War Secrets in his official bag."

"A Kaiser’s messenger!" Sherbrand’s mouth shaped a soundless whistle,
"Why, now I remember, he had a dispatch-case or valise with him.
Wouldn’t hear of leaving it behind!"

"I—daresay not," the Chief’s dry smile commented.

Sherbrand went on:

"I developed muscle in persuading him to let it go in the observer’s
cockpit for fear of it fouling the warping-controls. No wonder he stuck
to it.  War Secrets!"

"It is plain you haven’t glanced at the _Evening Wire_.  It tells the
story rather pithily, beginning with an outbreak of fire on Tuesday
night at Gwyll Castle, Denbigh, caused by a short-circuit in the
electric-lighting apparatus of the North Tower."

He went on:

"I waste no time telling you, for all that’s possible has been done now
in setting our agents on the track of the flying thief!  The North Tower
at Gwyll holds the priceless Clanronald library, and the Muniment
Chamber, where they bottle up the original MSS. detailing the War Plan
of the old Earl.  The short-circuit that set up the blaze was—the kind
that any amateur can arrange for with rubber gloves, a pair of pliers
and a bit of soda-water wire."

"Is it known who the amateur was?"

"There is reason to suspect one Heir Rassing, an under-librarian of
German nationality, who behaved like a hero, according to the local Fire
Brigade!  He it was, who suggested—Clanronald being absent on a
yachting-cruise in the Fjords of Norway—that the contents of the
Muniment Chamber should be transferred to the strong-room in the
basement of the East Wing.  He superintended the removal, armed with
knowledge, enthusiasm, and a large-sized Webley Scott revolver, with
which he volunteered to keep solitary guard till morning, outside the
strong-room door!"

"And when daylight came—" hinted Sherbrand.

"It discovered the zealous Herr Rassing to be missing, and a
corresponding hiatus in the treasures of the Muniment Chamber.  Item, a
sharkskin case inlaid with ivory figures, Japanese, antique and
valuable,—containing the original diagrams—chemical _formulæ_ and so
on—embodying the famous Plan."

Sherbrand asked.

"Was it as tremendous as they tell one?"

The crisp voice answered:

"Tremendous it not only was, but Is.  The most terrible and effective
method of annihilating an enemy, that has ever been conceived by the
brain of man."

Sherbrand said, drawing a deep breath:

"And that is what von Herrnung carried in the brown leather valise-thing
that he took away with my machine! Not that I trouble about the Bird.
She was old, and I’ve got the stuff to build a new one.  But my
patent—the hawk-hoverer—that’s another pair of shoes!"

"The hawk—!  Phee-eew!"

The Chief whistled a rueful note and his keen eyes softened in sympathy:

"I had forgotten your invention.  So von Herrnung has scooped for
Germany the gyroscopic hovering-apparatus that the French War Ministry
were proposing to buy. Now I understand the something about you that has
puzzled me.  You wear the look of a father, Sherbrand, bereaved of an
uncommonly promising son."

Saxham’s stern face rose up in Sherbrand’s thought, stamped with that
look, and his throat contracted chokingly. The Chief asked:

"What sort of man is the mechanic von Herrnung has commandeered?  A
fellow easy to bribe, or intimidate?  It would be worth while to know?"

"It’s a boy—not a man!" broke from Sherbrand, hurriedly and hoarsely.
"General, no more unlucky thing could have happened! ... Dr. Saxham’s
twelve-year-old nipper took a tremendous shine to von Herrnung,
and—and—he’s gone with him!  That’s the news the Doctor’s got to hear by
and by!"

There was a silence.  The Chief’s face was turned away. Then he said

"There was no question of ’a shine.’  My Scout was obeying an order.
His Chief Scout had said, ’Keep this man under observation; and if he
leaves the Flying Ground—follow him, if you can!"

Sherbrand could not speak for pity of the small white face that had
grinned at him out of the clumsy woollen helmet. He understood now, that
when he had bent to strap the safety-belt about the little body swathed
in the flannel-lined pneumatic jacket, he had felt a terrified
child-heart bumpity-bumping under his hand.  And he struggled with his
grief and rage in silence, broken by an utterance from the other man.

"So he followed him into the air, seeing no other course before him.  My
old friend Saxham has good reason to chortle over such a son.  I said
to-day, ’I am proud of my Scouts!’  Well, to-night I am ten times
prouder.  I shall tell the Doctor this—when I get a private word with
him—and wind up with: ’Thanks to Bawne!’"

"Then the Doctor—" Sherbrand began, a weight lifting with the hope that
the news might not have to be broken:

"The Doctor knew.  I had said to him, doggily: ’I’ll give your pup a
fighting chance to prove his Saxham breed.’  It’s a stark breed—hard as
granite, supple as incandescent lava,—with a strain of Berserk madness,
and a dash of Oriental fatalism.  They can hate magnificently and
forgive grandly, and love to the very verge of death."

Could _she_, Sherbrand wondered, letting his eyes travel to the tall
white woman standing by the Doctor, as the Chief went over to them and
grasped his old friend’s hand.  Then both men moved away across the
dusky ground together. Those words of thanks and praise were being
spoken. Coming from such a source they must be heartening to listen to.
But presently when their glow had paled and faded, and the boy did not
come back...

Presently, when the empty chair and the vacant bed, and the little
garments hanging in the wardrobe should be filled and occupied and worn
only by a shadow-child wrought of lovely memories.  By and by, when the
silence in the house should clamour in the tortured ears of the woman
and the man...

Then, Sherbrand knew no praise of their lost darling would console
Bawne’s parents....  Dry-eyed they might smile until their lips cracked,
but their hidden hearts would weep.  Their tongues might be silent, but
their hearts would cry always; Did we wish our child to be heroic? Had
he been a craven we would have had him now beside us!  Give us our
living boy again!  O! keep your empty words!

A cry from Patrine prodded Sherbrand to active sympathy. So at last they
had told her.  She knew all.  And true to her type she was raging at the
Doctor and the Chief like a very termagant; upbraiding them with a spate
of words rushing over her writhing lips and lioness-frenzy in her
blazing eyes.

"I begged you not to let him go!"  This was to the Doctor.  "Faint!  Do
you take me for a bally idiot—to faint when there’s something to be
done!  Follow that man and get him back!  If he takes him away to
Germany—don’t you know we shall never see Bawne again!  Oh! why—why
can’t I make you understand!"

The raging voice grew hoarse with sobs, though her furious eyes were dry
as enamel.  She added with an inflection that made Sherbrand blink and

"Don’t you know—don’t you _know_ it will kill Aunt Lynette?  And I shall
be guilty—I who love them so!  Oh, God, I must do something or die
raving mad!"

The Doctor’s great arm held her firmly round the body. Saxham was strong
as an oak-tree, but who can control a woman in the frenzy of hysteria,
standing six feet tall in high-heeled No. 7 shoes?  She wrestled and
fought, and her tawdry hat of silver spangles tumbled off, and her
superb hair shed its pins of tortoiseshell, and rolled, yellow-tawny as
a South African torrent in flood-time, down over her heaving shoulders,
over the supple back and writhing loins, reaching nearly to her knees.
Then her strength went from her, and her tears came.  She dropped into a
chair Sherbrand had got her, and crumpled up there, crying bitterly.

                            *CHAPTER XXXVII*

                          *PATRINE CONFESSES*

With her hat off and her hairpins out, and her tawny-coloured mane
tumbling over her heaving shoulders, the superb illusion of maturity
vanished.  The three men viewed Patrine with clear, unprejudiced eyes.
Stripped of the magic cloak of Circe, here was no transformer of Man
into the hoofed and rooting mammal, but a great galumphing schoolgirl,
pouring out a heartful of trouble, without the least concern for her
complexion; mopping her streaming eyes with a little sopping
handkerchief; temporarily ending its brief career of usefulness with a
dismal blast upon the nose.

"Take mine!" said Saxham, thrusting the large-sized square of cambric
upon her.

"Th—thank you, Uncle Owen!"

She said it in the voice of a child.  The torrent of tears, so different
from those shed earlier, had washed her heart clean.  Something hard and
cynical and evil had passed out of her.  She was Bawne’s dear Pat again.

A lean brown hand that wore a chipped and ancient signet was next held
out to her.  She grasped it and was straightway hauled upon her feet.

"Are you better?" said a friendly voice, in a crisp way.

"I—think so.  Thank you, Sir Roland!"  She added in a tone as
tear-soaked as her handkerchief, while Saxham offered her her hat, and
Sherbrand tendered tortoiseshell hairpins:

"I’m awfully afraid I have behaved like a fool!"

"Like a woman!" said the friendly voice even more crisply.

"Do you think women are fools?" she was beginning, when she caught his
eye and broke off.  For she had met Sir Roland’s mother and she knew his
young wife quite well, and her Aunt Lynette, the one living being whom
she worshipped, was one of his closest friends.  No!  To this man women
were sacred.  Why had she uttered such a banality? For the life of her
she did not know.

She drew a sobbing breath, and looked about her vaguely, and suddenly a
mist rolled away from her brain.  The net of Tragedy whirled high and
fell upon her, and the steel trident was driven deep between her ribs

"I—had forgotten!"  She stared upon them.  "What must you all think of

Saxham’s arm came round her, and Saxham’s voice answered:

"Nothing, my dear, but that you are human, and have had a tremendous

She leaned against the Doctor’s great shoulder, sighing:

"Thank you! ... I’m all right now!  Not going to cry any more....  But
Bawne!  If we wait long enough there will be news of him?  We—shall get
him back?"

She felt Saxham’s iron muscles jerk, and his ribs heave as though the
trident had found a home between them.  Perhaps he could not find his
voice, for it was the Chief who said:

"We are doing everything possible.  Mr. Sherbrand is helping.  He has
been good enough to place the telegraph installation at our disposal and
the Wireless also.  A call, Burgin?"

The undersized clerk had waved a hand from the threshold of the cabin.
The Chief vanished.  Patrine sighed:

"Oh, if there should be news!"

"You are too sensible to be bowled over if there happens to be no news,"
said the Doctor’s voice.  But his arm was tense about her waist and she
felt the beating of his heart.

"Uncle Owen!"

Sherbrand had withdrawn out of earshot.  She squeezed the kind
responsive hand, turned her mouth towards the Doctor’s ear, and
whispered tremulously:

"Uncle Owen!  You don’t know _him_ as I do.  That’s why I am so—horribly
afraid for Bawne!  He would be cruel to anyone you liked, if he hated
you.  And he is furious with me!  I have thwarted him in—something he
wishes!  He is bad!—dangerous!—do you understand?"

"He cannot be a bad pilot with such a record.  And in such calm weather
there is little danger of an accident.  We must be patient; there is
nothing else to do at the moment, but wait!"

Saxham had feigned to misunderstand her, for very pity, you can
conceive.  Blurting out her miserable secret in this moment of unselfish
sorrow, his heart was wrung in him to an anguish of compassion for
Patrine.  But no less was he wrung by the truth her words conveyed.  His
son and Lynette’s was in the power of an evil man!  What was David’s
daughter saying?

"Uncle Owen!"  The tall figure of Sherbrand had moved away into the
reddish twilight, and a wild desire of confession spurred on the girl to
desperate frankness of speech. She hurried on, nerving herself to the
change that would presently show in Saxham.  "Uncle Owen!  I think you
had better know!  Since I met _him_ in Paris I——"

"Stop!" said Saxham.  But she would not stop.  She had his blood in her,
and went on, though to have set her naked foot on glowing iron would
have been easier than to tell.

"I have flirted with him!—gone alone with him to restaurants and
music-halls!—let him take me to the Upas!"—there was a tightness like
knotted whipcord about her throat; "That’s—not the worst!"

"I guessed it.  Stop!" Saxham repeated:

"Who told?"—she faltered brokenly, and shivered at the deep stern

"No one told, but the reputation of the—man is known to me.  His type
does not hesitate where a woman’s virtue is concerned."

A great sigh burst from her.  "And you can speak to me and touch me
kindly—you don’t hate the sight of me?"

"No, my poor girl, God forbid!"

"How good!—" she began, broke off and said, shuddering: "But—Aunt
Lynette!  How could I bear it, if she were ever to know——"

Saxham said harshly:

"She shall not know!  Who do you dream will tell her? Not I!  So set
your mind at rest, my girl.  You are a girl—though you talk like a woman
of thirty!"

She said with a miserable catch in her throat:

"Nineteen _is_ rather young, isn’t it?  Perhaps things would have been
different if only Dada had lived!"

The utterance was as inapposite as it was sentimental. If David had
still been in existence his daughter would have had no less cause for
regret.  But Saxham, inwardly quivering and wrung with pity, could only

"Perhaps things would!  What you have got to do now is—Forget!  Do you
hear me?  I order you, and I will be obeyed!  And I will have you leave
this titled lady who employs you, and who is all kindness and no
discretion. Resign your post to-morrow!  You need not return to your
mother.  My house is your home!"  He went on in his rare tone of
tenderness, "You need no telling that I care for you as a daughter.
Come to me, and to Lynette who loves you dearly.  She will want
comfort—now that—"  His voice broke and his mouth twisted.  He fought
with his anguish, in silence, turning his grim white face away.

"Who will tell Aunt Lynette?  Oh!  who will tell her?" he heard Patrine
whisper.  He commanded himself to answer:

"For the present, I have telephoned her that we may be detained here
until late.  Suppose you twist up your hair now, and put your hat on.

A sweet, manly voice answered out of the dimness of the Flying Ground:
"Here, Doctor!  You called me?"

In the madder and umber light of the dying sunset Sherbrand’s tall brown
shape came towards them.  Saxham said as Patrine swept her tawny tresses
into one rough rope:

"I am going to ask you to find out whether the people at the
refreshment-place could give my niece something by way of substitute for
dinner.  A cup of coffee, or cocoa with milk, a roll and butter, and a
slice of cold beef or ham?"

Sherbrand said eagerly:

"I am sure Miss Saxham can get anything like that. Mrs. Durrant keeps
open house till nine o’clock, or later, if there is reason.  She caters
for the School Staff, respectably, by contract.  I lodge—a very decent
berth—over the dining-room, where I have my grub.  Noisy by day but
quiet enough at night-time.  Will you come this way, Miss Saxham?  You
too, Doctor?"

Saxham declined.  They left him standing there, in the wide expanse that
was filling up with brooding shadows, with his back to the dying rose of
the sunset, looking fixedly to the north.

                           *CHAPTER XXXVIII*

                             *THE REBOUND*

Patrine, that magnificent animal, had passed unknowingly through the
painful ordeal which accompanies in the human the evolution of a soul.
No doubt she had had one before without suspecting it.  Now she was
conscious of the presence of the guest.

Through the big barbaric halls of her nature, glittering with tinsel
over plaster backed with canvas, thronged with vanities, appetites,
desires, and ambitions, jostling at the glittering fountains, buying at
the tawdry counters, flocking to the dubious restaurants, swooping down
the water-chutes, wandering through the painted landscapes, drinking in
the dubious atmosphere, had passed a ray of light, pure, vivifying and
cleansing, had blown a breeze of crystal mountain air.  And through the
blare of brass a note had sounded that would never cease to vibrate in
Patrine’s ears. Having partially confessed, she experienced a
disproportionate rebound of spirits.  Her fears for Bawne weighed on her
less heavily, Saxham’s reference to cold ham had awakened in her the
pangs of healthy appetite.  The proximity of Sherbrand was a vividly
keen pleasure.  She had always wished for a brother, and here was the
very _beau ideal_ of one!  She meant to ask him if he had sisters—she
was sure they would be awfully nice girls!

One or two electric lights were switched on in the big room full of
little white-covered tables, with the counter at the far end piled high
with thick white plates.  The big nickel urns were cold and empty, but
Mrs. Durrant, the stout and smiling proprietress of the restaurant,
produced hot coffee and milk in a twinkling, bread and butter, the cold
ham, and a cold pigeon-pie.

With her own very fat, very pink hands Mrs. Durrant ministered, voluble
the while in sympathy....  The lady had been upset because the dear
little boy hadn’t come back.  People were sometimes kept for hours
through a Loose Nut, or a Slack Wire, or a Carburetter, or some little
thing or another going wrong.

"You remember when Under-Instructor Davis took Mr. Durrant for an Air
Beano all the way to Upavon, Mr. Sherbrand? Flares burning ’alfway
through the night, and pore me!—new to the Flying then—wasn’t I, Mr.
Sherbrand?—going from one fit of astericks into another, and running out
to meet Durrant, when he dropped down calmly ’Ome at four in the
mornin’, with my hair all untidy and hangin’ about me—"  Patrine swiftly
put up a hand to assure herself that her own tawny coils were securely
fastened—"for all the world like an Indian Squawk."

"Wives had their feelings, it was only to be expected," said Mrs.
Durrant.  Mothers had also theirs, and, that was natural too!  Patrine
found the idea of her own maternal relationship to Bawne so firmly fixed
in the mind of Mrs. Durrant, it was barely worth the trouble to
endeavour to explain it away.  Mrs. Durrant had none of her own, worse
luck! but here, just coming with the salad and some fried potatoes, was
Mr. Durrant’s married niece, Ellen Agnes, and nobody knew better what it
was to lose a darling child.

Ellen Agnes, wan-eyed, anæmic, slipshod, and overworked, supported the
statement.  Only in April it ’ad ’appened, and Ellen Agnes ’ad never
’eld ’er ’ead up properly since.  And little Elbert the ’ealthiest of
children. Rising three and never a nillness till the pewmonia carried
’im orf.  ’Ad only ’ad ’im phortographed three days before it ’appened!
with ’is lovely little limbs and body naked, sitting on a fur rug, the
blessed dear!

Ellen Agnes not appearing to recognise any connecting link between the
nude pose and the pneumonia, Patrine suppressed the obvious suggestion.
Both women meant well, but their talkative sympathy oppressed her.  She
imagined how, when Sherbrand ate alone, the stout aunt and the thin
niece would hover round his table, assailing his ears with their Cockney
voices, making their common, vulgar comments on the happenings of the

Perhaps her disrelish showed, for the kind women presently slackened
their attentions.  There was nothing then to divert Sherbrand’s
attention from his guest, beyond the undeniable attractions of the
hastily spread board.

So they ate the pie, all of it.  Patrine cried, in frank astonishment at
the evaporation of her second plateful:

"But I am a wolf or something.  No!  Not even salad. What must you think
of me?  Crying my eyes out one minute and stodging pigeon-pie the next!
Do the rest of the friends you feed here behave as badly as that?"

Sherbrand returned, ignoring the mention of other guests:

"Now, what should I think?  Nothing but that you wanted something to
buck you, and I was pretty ravenous myself.  It was pretty parky up
there at 10,000."  He answered to her question how high that was: "Why,
comparatively, you might imagine it about nine times as high as the top
of St. Paul’s Cross from the level of the ground."

Little the speaker dreamed then of aërial battles to be fought at
20,000.  She asked whether he had "felt giddy" and he shook his head,

"If I had felt inclined to giddiness I should have put off climbing
until I felt fitter.  I sympathise with Opera Stars who disappoint full
houses, because some high C or lower G is a hairsbreadth off the bull.
The singer can’t afford a false note.  It’s death to a reputation.  And
the Flying Man can’t risk brain-swim, because it means possibly
nose-dive and smash.  So I stay out of my sky unless I’m sure of myself.
There’s nothing on earth like being sure."

He had a way of saying "my sky" that was queer and rather beautiful.
Just as though he had been a lark, occurred to Patrine.  And indeed, in
the beaky, jutting nose, and the full, bright eyes set forward and flush
with the wide orbital arches, there was some resemblance between the man
and the bird.

Patrine sunned herself in the lighter moment.  She who had lain through
the night sleepless—had risen still a bond-slave—realized that her
fetters were broken now that her evil genius had flown.  Taking with him
her beloved, she fully believed in malice.  Piercing though that
knowledge was, it could not mar the blissful sense of freedom, mental
and physical.

Bawne would be brought back.  Meanwhile, one’s blood sang through one’s
being, mere living was riotous ecstasy, mere breathing sheerest delight.
The joy of life radiated from her.  And to Sherbrand, sitting opposite
at the little coarse-clothed table, she grew momentarily more and more
like the girl of the Milles Plaisirs.

True, instead of cloudy black, her hair vied in tone with the banner of
coppery flame that streams from the crater of an active volcano, or
burns above some giant crucible of molten metal ready to be poured
forth.  Her long eyes under her wide level brows looked the colour of
peat-water, in the electric light that contracted their pupils to
pin-heads, and brought out against the yellow-distempered walls the
creamy whiteness of her wonderful skin.  When she leaned her round
elbows on the table-cloth and smiled at him, it was the frank, generous
smile that had warmed his heart when he stood solitary and unfriended on
the rose-pink carpet near the gilt turnstile on the Upper Promenade.

He would put it to the test.  He beckoned the pallid Ellen Agnes, asked
for the bill, slipped his hand into a breast-pocket and drew from it a
tiny white silk purse.

"Oh!  You found ..."

With an indescribable emotion, half pain, half pleasure, she saw her
missing property in the broad extended palm. He said:

"It flashed on me, even as I blackguarded Davis, that you must have paid
that Commissionaire-fellow at the turnstile or he’d have been breathing
vengeance at my back.  So I ran back to find you and ask for an address
where I might send the money.  You were gone!  He had got this purse in
his hand.  So I—bluffed the brute for all I was worth, and got him to
give it me!—a stroke of luck—for I’d no money left to bribe him with!
Be kind and tell me how much you gave the fellow!"

The deep dimple Sherbrand remembered showed in the full oval of one of
her white cheeks.  Slowly the pale rose-flush sweetened and warmed the
whiteness.  Her eyes were dusky stars under the barbaric wealth of
beech-leaf tresses. A slow smile curved her mouth, the scarlet lips
parted widely, showing two perfect rows of gleaming teeth.

"Two half-jimmies!" said the rich, mellow woman’s baritone.  Why did it
talk such awful slang?  "Half my screw for one whole week of
letter-writing, running errands, doing shopping, and generally
sheepdogging for my friend, Lady Beauvayse!"

"Then please take this!"  This was a fat bright sovereign. "And be kind
and say that I may stick to the purse?"

"If you care to—" Patrine began, dubiously.

"I care—most awfully!"  He went on quickly.  "Lady Beauvayse—your
friend—I’ve seen her—if she’s very pretty and tremendously American?"

She nodded.

"You’ve spotted her!  That’s Lady Beau—the dear thing!  But she only
talks Yankee Doodle to bounders or fogies, or people who seem to expect
it from her.  Her English is as good as mine."

"You don’t mean it!"  His keen face crinkled with laughter.  She was
superbly unconscious of its cause.  He went on, rather ashamed of having
made fun of her: "That accounts for the Old Kent Road-_cum_-Whitechapel
I’ve heard from the august lips of British duchesses.  At
cricket-matches when Eton and Harrow were playing ’Varsity."

"Does it?  I think not!  The duchesses weren’t amusing themselves, or
trying to snub swankers.  They were just mothers—_real_ mothers—trying
to talk cricket to their boys.  And the boys—the sweets!—grinning up
their blessed young sleeves, and saying ’Yes’m!’ and ’No’m!’  How I do
love boys!  Don’t you?"  Her smile contracted with a spasm of anguish.
"And I’m sitting here, gobbling and gabbling, when my darling!—"  She
rose taller than ever, from the little table, caught up her feather
stole from a chairback near and slung it vigorously round her,
straightened the tinsel hat with a side-glance at the strip of a
looking-glass nailed in a frame of cheap gilt beading on the
matchboarded wall at her right hand, picked up the vanity-bag and the
long-sticked sunshade, and declared herself ready to go.

                            *CHAPTER XXXIX*

                           *A NIGHT IN JULY*

She reached the door before him.  He had turned to say considerately to
the good woman of the restaurant:

"We shall be late....  Frightfully, I expect!  Promise me you won’t sit

"Oh! but I can’t promise!  One never knows!  Best to have people up an’
ready when there might be need of ’em!" Patrine heard, as she wrenched
at the handle of the green curtained glass door.

"No—no!  Let me!"

His hand touched hers and she drew it away, not before a keen, sharp
thrill had traversed her.  "_Vile, hateful creature!_" she said to the
Patrine von Herrnung knew—the other woman within her, whom she loathed.
"_Is not it enough that you have done what you have done?_"  Then as she
passed out into the night, feeling beneath her feet the roughness of the
gravel walk that led between grass-plats studded with green painted
chairs and little iron tables, a strange roaring filled her ears and
hellish tongues of fire licked a sky of vivid blackness.  She recoiled,
saying in awed and shaken tones:

"Why!  What has happened?  What does it mean? ... How horrible!"

The door had shut behind them.  Now the round dome of the sky showed not
black, but velvety purple.  Away in the south-east a fierce red moon
drifted like some derelict vessel burning away to embers on a waveless
midnight sea. And sheaves of dazzling blue-white flames, leaping and
roaring, fenced in, or seemed to fence, a dreadful lake of Stygian
darkness, upon the surface of which figures—were they men or

"Don’t be scared, Miss Saxham!  It’s nothing ... though I ought to have
wanted you...!"

Not with intent, her heaving shoulder pressed against the breast of the
man who had followed her.  Perhaps the contact thrilled him, for his
voice was unsteady as he went on:

"I was rather a brute to forget! ... It’s a night-flare to
guide—possible home-comers! ... Wads of tow dipped in petrol, burning in
iron buckets round our landing-place.’

"I ought to have guessed," she said ruefully.  "Forgive me for being
such an idiot!"

His answer was unexpected.

"On condition that you’ll leave off saying ’Great Scott!’ and things
like that."

"All right!  But what’s the matter with the expression, anyhow?" she
demanded.  "Do you always get riled when women use slang?"

They had been standing within the gate that led upon the Flying Ground,
still girdled by its Valkyr-ring of leaping flame.  He said, holding
open the gate to let her pass through:

"I use slang myself, habitually, like every other man I know.  But I
don’t know a man who really likes to hear his wife or sweetheart copy
him in that respect.  For myself who have neither wife, sweetheart, nor
even sister, I can only say what I feel.  It is—that a beautiful woman
should use beautiful language.  One of the old Greek poets put the whole
thing into two lines.  I’ve forgotten the original, but the translation
runs like this:

    "From the goddess the speech of Olympus,
    From the herd-maid the language of the cows."

"I’m no goddess, God knows!" said Patrine, sorrowfully and sincerely.

Then a light scorching flame seemed to envelop her whole body.  She felt
Sherbrand’s breath upon her cheek.... He said, speaking swiftly, and
close to her ear:

"No, you are not a goddess, but something far better! You are a woman
one could worship!  You could hate magnificently and forgive greatly,
and love to the very verge of death!  That was said to me of the Doctor,
and you are like him!"

"Don’t!" she said, wincing.  "You don’t know me!"

He answered firmly:

"But I do know you!  I knew you the moment I saw you in Paris.  You’re
the girl I have been waiting for ever since I read Morris’s
’Eredwellers’.  You’re The Friend!  Now I’ve found you I shall never let
you go again!"

What midsummer madness was this, prompting him to sweet audacity?  His,
"I shall never let you go!" had a convincing, manly ring.  She quickened
her steps, wading through a shallow sea of shadows, through which the
warm short turf came up to meet her feet.  He kept by her side, and
together they moved towards the Valkyr-ring of fire, changing as they
advanced into isolated pillars of towering flame outlining the huge
white oval of Fanshaw’s landing-place. Here and there the goblin-like
shapes moved, stirring the flares with rods, feeding the blaze with
something from vessels they carried.  And two other figures stood in
talk by the telegraph-hut, recognisable, outlined against the oblong of
electric radiance framed by the doorway, as Saxham and the Chief.

"This is a bit previous, you think?  Headlong—ill-considered on my
part—to have spoken like this to a girl I’ve only met once before?  You
must understand—a man who follows a risky profession gets into the way
of not waiting for to-morrow, because to-day may be the wind-up. Say you
are not angry!" Sherbrand pleaded.

"No, you poor dear boy!  But you’re so awfully mistaken!"  There was a
rich and exquisite tenderness, it seemed to Sherbrand, in the deep,
full, breathy tones. "I’m not a bit what you think me!  There is nothing
worthy of worship in a woman like me," said Patrine.

He asked, as they walked side by side from patches of brilliant
blue-white light into deep oases of shadow:

"May I say more?  May I tell you that I’ve thought of you ever since
that Paris night....  What things I’ve called myself—if you only
knew!—for not getting your address.  But I swore I’d find you somehow,
and I would have!  I’d know your voice among a thousand.  If I were
blind, and forgot other people’s faces, I should always see yours
painted against the dark.  At night—now! when I shut my eyes ... there
it is!  You are not angry?"

"No—I’m only sorry for you!" she said in her deepest, sweetest tone.

"Sorry?"  There was keen anxiety in the face that was illuminated by the
petrol-flare they were passing.  "You’re not—married—or going to be?" he


"Thank God!" said Sherbrand simply and sincerely. "Now I’ll go on!  My
rank bad luck gives me a kind of right.  This morning I got up solid in
the conviction that you and I were meant for one another; that we should
somehow be brought together; that the French Government would make it
possible for me to marry you by buying my hawk-hoverer—for with only the
two hundred a year my uncle left me, and the two hundred my
Instructorship here brings me—how could I possibly have the nerve to ask
you to be my wife?  And—"  He caught his breath, "And everything I’d
dreamed came real.  The test succeeded!  I dived down out of my sky to
find You!  Miracle of miracles. And not twenty minutes later—I found
myself nearly, if not quite—a ruined man.  For if my invention has been
swiped off to Germany, France will never buy, for money—what her
neighbour gets for nought!"

"I understand.  My poor Flying Man, you’ve been plucked of some of your

"I don’t care, if you’ll wait for me until they grow again!"

How grim a day had been followed by this night of wonder!  Woven of the
shining stuff of dreams it seemed, then and for long years after, to
Patrine.  Their intimacy grew and ripened like a magic beanstalk in the
light of the red moon and the fierce blue petrol-flares.  She said with
a catch in her breath—like Sherbrand’s:

"You must be serious!"

"I never was more so!"

She amended:

"We must be sensible!  Oh! but this has been a close-packed day!"

"Hasn’t it!" Sherbrand agreed, as they moved on side by side, from
islands of raw, glaring light into broad pools of lustreless darkness,
their tall heads level, for Patrine carried her hat of silver spangles
swinging from the top of the sunshade with the lengthy stick.
"Sometimes, for weeks, the days slip by smoothly as the beads of a
Rosary over a baby’s finger.  Then—bang-bang-bang! they explode—like a
rocket fired by a signal-pistol—until things fizzle out into dulness

"It’s true!"  Her bosom rose in a sigh.  "But it’s possible to get
awfully fed up with banging and fizzling.  One can learn to long—just
for a little dulness, as long as it means quiet and rest, and peace of

That Patrine should voice such an aspiration was incredible even to the
speaker.  "_How changed I must be!_" she said to herself, as Sherbrand
answered her:

"With heathery moors and towering scaurs, and galloping trout-rivers
brabbling over lichened boulders—and Somebody one loves to talk to—one
calls that kind of dulness a happy honeymoon!"

She thrilled as his hand, swinging freely by his hip, touched hers,
lightly, enclosed, and then released it.  He was no tardy lover, this
Flying Man.  He knew a thousand times better than von Herrnung how a
girl should be courted and wooed.  For, with her heart in joyful tumult,
and her usually pale cheeks warmed and rosy with shy blushes, it was a
girl who walked beside Alan Sherbrand that night.  I am sorry she could
forget so easily the slip that had led her over the frontier line, the
Rubicon that can never be recrossed.  But in fact she did forget, just
as a young man would have forgotten.  Though she was to remember as only
a woman can remember, and to suffer as only a woman can.

In the midst of the new, wonderful happiness, so strangely threaded not
only for Patrine, with bitter loss and tragic possibilities, she
suffered a quite intolerable twinge of memory in the sudden recollection
of the boldly-scrutinising look cast upon her by the bearded man in the
white Naval uniform.  She did not realise that an imperious gesture of
the brown hand, whose wrist had sported a massive gold watch-bracelet,
had whisked von Herrnung off the scene.  But she guessed that the huge
red-haired Prussian, bowing at the side of the big blue F.I.A.T., had
clicked his heels before a master who could break him at his will.

He had boasted....  They _knew_!  Not only the bearded man whose look
had stung so, but the close-shaven old Colossus with the
tortoiseshell-mounted pince-nez on his thick heavy nose and the huge
wart on his yellow cheek. And the sallow diplomat in the Homburg hat
shadowing the sly glance and the moustache tucked up by a sinister smile
under his drooping Oriental nose.  They all knew.... Even the servant
had worn the leer that is born of knowledge, as he said in his Teutonic

"The lady is a friend of the gentleman who brought her here..."

Horrible!  But she would not remember.  She banished the hateful,
knowing faces with a gallant effort and turned to Sherbrand, asking
whether he had been an Eton, or Rugby, or Harrow boy?

For had her Flying Man borne the cachet of the Public School Patrine
Saxham would have infinitely preferred it. That it is possible to be a
snob even in the most tragic or romantic moment of one’s existence, she
had not realised before she discovered herself to herself in this way.

"Downside was my school," he said quite proudly. Patrine had no
acquaintance with Downside.  "My father would have liked me to go to
Harrow; but my uncle—my mother’s brother—who paid for my
education!—being a Catholic, naturally preferred the place where the
Faith was taught.  And my mother—as naturally—shared his preference.  I
was happy at Downside.  The Fathers were thundering good to me.  I
worked hard—and I played hard—and when it wasn’t Swot, or cricket, or
football, or fives, or boxing, it was the making of flying-sticks, just
shaved laths with paper wings, at first—and then a dodge much more
ambitious, a model Wright in varnished card, with a propeller worked by
a rubber release....  My father was pleased at my being a chip of the
old block in my turn for mechanics.  But when I wouldn’t go up for
Woolwich—when I entered at Strongitharm’s College of Engineering on
Tyneside, and spent two years at Folsom’s Works at Sunderland—he rather
gave me up, I fancy, as a low-minded kind of cad."

He shook himself as though to shake off the adverse paternal judgment.

"I had my reasons for not going in for the Army, though I love it.  They
weren’t easy to explain, and so I didn’t try. But my father never liked
the idea of my being a civil engineer.  Even my mother, and my
uncle—dear old fellow—he understands me better now!"


"Because he’s dead!" said Sherbrand simply, "and the Holy Souls know

"The Holy Souls?"  By the glare of the flare-light her puzzled eyes
questioned him.

"The Holy Souls in Purgatory.  They’re privileged to help us.  We help
them—by praying for them.  It’s—a spiritual intercommunication—a kind of
endless chain. A circuit of influence, received and transmitted, not by
etheric flashes, but by a medium more subtle.  Prayer—in a word!"

His bright-winged intellect had outstripped her heavier, duller
intelligence.  She suddenly felt like a caterpillar on a cabbage-leaf,
slow-moving, groping, but dimly conscious of a distant affinity with the
jewel-winged butterfly hovering high in golden air....

"_Prayer_," she repeated dully, "do you believe in prayer?"

"Naturally!" said Sherbrand—"since I believe in God. Do not you? ..."

"I hardly——"

In the ensuing pause Patrine had a brief retrospective vision of the
curate who had prepared her for Confirmation, and who had talked of the
Almighty as though He were a crotchety but benevolent old man.  And last
time she had been to Church—a fashionably attended High Church in the
West End—another curate in a black cassock and tufted biretta had
preached about the ’Par of Card, the baptismal dar of Grace, the bar of
flars,’ in which our first parents dwelt in Eden, ’the fatal ar’ in
which they sinned, and the ’shar of tars’ with which Eve lamented her

"No," she said bluntly, "I don’t think I believe in God at all now,
though it sometimes seems as though there must be Somebody behind
things!—Somebody who punishes—Somebody who laughs!  As for a religion, I
don’t suppose I’ve ever had one.  Oh, yes!—my religion is Aunt Lynette!"

A mental picture of Lynette, years ago in the Harley Street nursery,
teaching a curly-headed baby Bawne to say his evening prayer, while a
great galumphing girl stood in the doorway and looked and listened, rose
up and brought with it the horrible choking sensation.  She fought with
it as Sherbrand said:

"I think you are speaking of Mrs. Saxham?  Well, one must have a star to
hitch one’s waggon to.  And she is a star—if ever I saw one!  A woman
with a face like a Donatello Madonna, or a tall lily growing in the
garden-cloisters of some Italian mountain-convent, and who has the
Faith,—ought to be able to teach you to believe in God!  Why not ask
her?  I once knelt in a Church near her, and saw her praying.  She
seemed—very close to what Norman or someone else called the Eternal

"She will be nearer still," said Patrine with sudden, savage roughness,
"if anything happens—if Bawne is killed! She will die of a broken

"Then why not pray," argued Sherbrand, "that she may get him back again?
Why not try it?  There’s nothing else that helps so well!"

"Pray!"  The tall girl stopped short and swung round on him, facing him.
A moment since they had walked like lovers.  Now the spell was broken—at
all events, for the time.

"Pray—pray!" she mocked.  "Am I a sneak?—to pray when I don’t believe in
prayer!  And if I did believe, God—if He exists—would not hear me.  Even
the parsons own He has His favourites.  I am not one of them....  I am
one of His forgets!"

                              *CHAPTER XL*

                         *MACROMBIE IS SACKED*

Tall, lithe, vigorous, masterful, they confronted each other across the
gulf that suddenly opened between them—the bottomless chasm that yawns
between Faith and Unbelief.

In the fitful uncanny light, the darker side of Patrine started into
sinister prominence.  Her defiant face was masked by shadow, but the
fierce vibrating voice and towering shape had something of the fallen
angel.  Had wide sable pinions sprung and bannered from her shoulders,
Sherbrand would hardly have been surprised.

"Let us draw the line at that.  If we are to be friends—and I would like
us to be!—agree to it!  But since you have what I have not—you would
call it Faith, no doubt," he guessed the wide mouth curving in a jeering
smile, "there is nothing to prevent _you_ from praying for Aunt Lynette
and for Bawne too!  Unless you are the kind of physician who draws the
line at taking his own drugs!"

If she had thought to disconcert Sherbrand she erred. He said instantly:

"I give you my word of Honour that I will pray for them! But there is
one other person much dearer to me than either. You don’t ask me for
_her_, but all the same..."

"You kind, dear boy!  Pray for me all you want to!"

She was his big, smiling girl of the Milles Plaisirs, and the Pat young
Bawne worshipped, as she stretched out her beautiful, massive arm and
offered him a cordial hand.

"Shake, Mister!  Making love to me one minute and bally-ragging me the
next! ... Great Scott!  Ah!—I’ve said it again—and I gave you my word
I’d not!"

He took the hand in a close grasp, sought for the other and took it

"Thank you!  Why, how you’re shivering!  You have nothing but that
feather thing over your thin gown!  Wait half a minute—I’ll get you a

He was gone in an instant, leaving her standing on the border-line of
one of the oases of black-velvet shadow, swayed by the violence of her
emotion as some tall young birch might have been shaken by the fury of a
south-west gale.

His touch....  She had not dreamed....  Her head drooped, and a long
sigh went fluttering after him into the darkness, like some night-moth
whose wings are wrought of hues more gorgeous than the peacock
butterfly’s, whose scent is on the alert, and whose diamond eyes pierce
the blackest midnight in search of the partner of its kind.

A footstep she knew approached.  A familiar voice called her:

"Uncle Owen."  The spell broke.  Her mind leaped up alert and quivering.
"Have you any news—of Bawne?"

"I have news!"


"Not the worst news," said Saxham’s harsh voice, "but not—hopeful!"

"They are not coming back?"  She strove to set her heel on the
treacherous hope that he would say No!  For how could she bring herself
to desire the enemy’s return.  And yet the thought of Bawne was a stab
of anguish in her bosom.  What was the Doctor saying?

"The last definite intelligence received of them confirms the certainty
that Captain von Herrnung is now over the North Sea.  He alighted
nowhere; that we have positively learned from many different
news-centres.  A tractor-monoplane answering to the description and
carrying two-passengers passed the Bull Light on Spurn Head, at a few
minutes before eight.  The lighthouse-keeper signalled that bad weather
might be expected.  The pilot paid no attention.  And later on——"

As Saxham spoke, with that strange hoarseness, Patrine took his arm
tremblingly.  Her heart plunged as though it would burst its prison as
the Doctor went on:

"An hour or more later a Wireless came in.  It had been sent on to Sir
Roland from the Admiralty!—I will not puzzle you with technical details.
But at 8.30 the officer on duty on the upper-bridge of the
second-in-line of a Battle Squadron steaming through Northern Waters on
the way to a Southern rendezvous, reported having heard an aëroplane
pass overhead, crossing the course of the Squadron diagonally—apparently
flying due east——"

Saxham added:

"The aviator made no signal for assistance.  But the engine-beat told of
trouble developing....  There is nothing to do but wait and hope!"

What had really happened on board H.M.S. _Rigasamos_, maintaining her
appointed speed of fifteen knots, and her statutory two-cable-lengths
from the stern of the Flagship ahead, and the bows of the sister-ship
following her, had been that as the ship’s band struck into _The Roast
Beef of Old England_, and the Owner took his place at the head of the
Ward-room mess-table, his Second in Command on the fore-bridge got a
speaking-tube message from the Navigating Lieutenant on the
upper-bridge, to say that the drone of an aëroplane, flying at about
four hundred overhead, had been picked up by Warrant Officer So-and-So,
of the gun and searchlight control, _per_ medium of the microphone.

The Second in Command called back through the voice-tube:

"An aëroplane....  You’re sure?  Could hear her racket myself, without
assistance.  But put it down to a Fleet Seaplane taking a flip round the
Squadron for exercise, or one of the Goody-Two-Shoes from the R.N.A.S.
Station at Rosforth, blown out to sea doing Coast Patrol."

An answer rumbled down the pipe:

"It was an aëro all right, sir!  The rattle of her floats ’ud have given
away a Goody....  Travelling east against the side-drive of a
forty-mile-an-hour north-west gale.... And with engine trouble well
developed.  Missing and back-firing like the gayest kind of hell!"

The Second in Command took his ear from the mouth of the speaking-tube,
and with a glance that included the figures of his Sub-Lieutenant, the
Midshipman, signalmen, and lookouts at their posts swung into the
chart-house and logged the occurrence in the plain language of the sea.
The clock told 8.35 P.M. as he finished, capped his fountain pen, and
slipped it in an inside pocket, soliloquising:

"Travelling east against a forty-mile-an-hour gale from the north-west,
and with engine-trouble to top up with ... Little Willie will be seeing
the angels pretty soon at this rate!  Or piling himself up somewhere on
the coast of Holland!  Wonder who the bally idiot is?"

Saxham continued, and now he croaked as hoarsely as a raven:

"Sir Roland has little doubt that the aëroplane heard on the _Rigasamos_
was Sherbrand’s ’Bird of War.’  If so, there would be very little hope
left, unless it had been previously arranged that a vessel belonging
to—a foreign Power!—was to watch for and give help if she should require
it.  Now you know as much as I do.  I have telephoned to both Lady
Beauvayse and your mother that you return with me to Harley Street.  We
shall go presently.  First, I want you to speak on the telephone to

"To—Lynette!" Patrine breathed.  The Doctor told her: "I have kept the
worst from Lynette hitherto.... I shall do so until the ultimate hope is
abandoned.  My wife knows my voice so well....  You understand.... She
would suspect something ..."

His voice stumbled and broke.  And clinging to the arm of the big man
standing quietly beside her, potent in inertia as a lump of raw iron,
Patrine realised that her anguish was a drop in the ocean of his.  She
took his hand and said in a tone he had never before heard from her:

"Come, dear!  We will go and speak to her now."

So they went across to the telegraph-cabin, raw with unshaded electric
light and littered with papers.  The Chief was there, looking livid and
careworn, leaning one elbow on the edge of the stand that supported the
Wireless, and wearing the telephone head-band with the ear-pieces, as he
dictated to the pallid clerk who occupied a Windsor chair at a stained
deal desk, and wrote with a spluttering pen on a depleted paper-pad.  At
first sight there seemed to be nothing else in the place but a low voice
speaking, a Railway Key instrument, a file for telegrams and an
overpowering odour of rum.

The odour of rum consolidated to Patrine’s view into a stocky thickset
man with a square heavy yellow face set into a tragic mask of despair.
It was Macrombie, ex-Petty Officer telegraphist, whom the Royal Navy had
spat forth for being D.O.D. fifteen full years before.  Sacked now from
his civil employment, for the old glaring, unblinkable offence.

The liquor had barely faded out in him; his breath came across the
little cabin like a flaming sword, and his eyes under their beetling
coal-black eyebrows looked burnt-out. He rose from the debilitated
office-stool he had been sitting on, saluted Patrine stiffly and said:

"Mem, this is no place for a leddy, wi’ a drucken wastrel like mysel’ in
it.  Ay!  I hae lat ower a drap too mony, I am awa’ the noo wi’ my
weicht o’ wyte.  But no wi’oot a warstle have I yielded to the Enemy!"
His anguish broke the flood-gates in a rumbling roar.  "Like Job I hae
cried oot in the nicht-watches to my Creator, speiring o’ Him why He
made weak men an’ strong rum?  He didna’ gie me ony answer—and I am
ganging down the Broad Road’s fast as my bluidy thirrst can carry me—a
disgraced and ruined man!"

"Mr. Sherbrand will give you another chance.  I know he will!—I’ll ask
him!" came impetuously in the big warm womanly baritone.

"You’re a grand woman to luik at, and the lad’ll gie in—an’ the haill
deil’s dance to begin ance mair....  Na, na, my bonny leddy!" said
Macrombie, "ye can never lippen to the promises o’ a drunkard.  Best lat
me gang my gait to muckle Hell.  Ay!  I’ll no’ be lonesome there for
want o’ company....  Toch! what a regiment o’ Macrombies deid an’ damned
will answer ’Present’ to auld Satan’s rollcall!  Guid-nicht, my leddy,
an’ thanks to ye a’ the same."

He took his cap from a peg, and from the corner a bundle of
miscellaneous possessions, rolled up in apparently a worn alpaca
office-coat, and girt about with knotted string.  He saluted the Chief
and Saxham, and nodded to the telegraph clerk, and went out of the cabin
in a plodding kind of hurry as though no grass should grow under his
feet before he set them for good upon the dreadful downward Road.

His vice had played into an enemy’s hands, and he would trust himself no
longer.  He meted out judgment to rum-soaked Macrombie, assuming for
himself the prerogative of the One Judge.  But he got his chance in
spite of himself, when Britain’s Hour came.

                             *CHAPTER XLI*

                             *SAXHAM LIES*

At Saxham’s nod Patrine rang up Lynette, and the familiar voice that
came back, spun out to a spider-thread of sweetness across the distance,
stabbed the listener to the heart like a delicate blade of gold-wrought
steel.  It said, with a quiver in it:

"Of course, I am not nervous at all.  And I know how much Bawne would
enjoy the night-flying.  But if Owen were not there, perhaps I might
be—afraid that something was wrong.  Owen!"

"Say that I am here," the Doctor signed, and Patrine obeyed.

"Tell my darling to speak to me," said the voice, and Patrine, dropping
the microphone from suddenly useless fingers, saw Saxham take it and
force his stiff white lips to speech:

"It is not possible—just at this moment.  You forget——"

"Of course ... The fireworks!"

"Just so.  The fireworks.  Expect us in another hour. And—Patrine is
here and coming back to Harley Street. To stay.  Please tell Mrs. Keyse
and Janey to get a room ready."

The cordial answer came:

"I will at once.  Dear Pat! how glad I shall be to have her!"

"This is Patrine speaking now!"

Saxham’s steady hand touched Patrine’s in transferring the receiver of
the telephone, and the chill of it stung like the touch of death.  She
could not control her trembling as she answered:

"You are always so kind to me, dear Aunt Lynette!"

"No, dear!  In an hour, then?  Take care of my precious," the sweet
voice pleaded, "until I see you both..."


Saxham’s hand hung up the receiver, rang off, and steadied Patrine,
whose knees were melting under her weight:

"Don’t ask me ... any more ... I—can’t!" she begged of him brokenly.  He
said, and with those deep lines that showed in his hard grey face, and
his light eyes staring haggardly from caves that grief had dug about
them, Saxham looked older by twenty years:

"I know it was hard, but the thing had got to be done. How could I
bludgeon her with the truth, whispered over a wire?  Once face to face,
the first glimpse of me will show her that I have lied to her.  God help
me!" said the Dop Doctor; "I told her I had stayed on here with Bawne to
give him the treat of seeing a night-flying display."

"How—horribly clever of you!"

"So clever," Saxham answered harshly, "that I shall probably regret it
to the end of my days.  In the whole of my practice I have never known a
well-meant deceit do any good—rather the opposite.  Consequently, I
preach to my patients Truth before everything—and break down and lie
when my own turn comes—like the damned coward I am."

"We shall leave here now in a few minutes," went on the Doctor,
glowering at his chronometer.  "I sent Keyse away with the car upon a
message.  He will be here to take us home to Harley Street at half-past
nine.  You have ample time to telephone to Berkeley Square for your
clothes and so on....  Lady Beauvayse’s maid can pack them for you, I

"Oh, yes.  She’s decent in the way of doing things for me."

"Very well."

The Doctor left the telegraph-hut, and Patrine ’phoned to Berkeley
Square.  Then, with a sudden recollection of an appointment which must
be cancelled, she gave the number that meant Margot’s newly-furnished
mansion, and presently heard the little bird-like voice chirping:

"Yes, this is 00, Cadogan Place.  I’m Lady Norwater! ... Is that you,
Pat?  Yes?  What cheer? ... I’m having a long, deadly domestic evening.
Franky’s reading an improving book aloud to me—at least he was when you
rang up—’Matrimony for Beginners.  A Handbook to Happiness,’ it’s
called.  But I don’t believe the man who wrote it ever had a live wife."

"Probably not.  Margot, pet, I can’t possibly lunch with you to-morrow!"

"Don’t say you back out because of the book!  Fits has got it now under
the sofa."  Fits was Franky’s lady bull-terrier.  "And by the time she’s
done with it there won’t be much left.  Say you’ll come!" Margot urged.
"Franky’s got to test a new car—so Rhona Helvellyn’s coming with two or
three Militant pals of hers.  I’ll give you lobster _Américaine_ and
cold lamb in mint aspic—and strawberry mousse.  There!"

"I’m frightfully sorry, my dinkie, but it simply can’t be!"

"What tosh!  And we’re going to talk over ideas for speeches at the
Monster Meeting of Women in October at the Royal Hall.  And Rhona has a
Grand Slam in the way of surprises—did she say anything to you about the
Mansion House Banquet demonstration she’s thought of for Monday night?"

"Yes, and I’m down on it—like houses!" declared Patrine.  "Is Rhona
really spoiling for a taste of skilly and yard-exercise?  Don’t you get
mixed up.  Think of Franky reading the paragraphs: ’POPULAR YOUNG

Patrine called good-bye and rang off, turning with the smile upon her
lips to see Sherbrand standing behind her with a long white coat upon
his arm.

"I have brought you a wrap.  A lady forgot it here the other day.  Let
me help you to put it on."

Patrine shivered as he drew the large loose garment round her.  It was a
white Malta blanket-coat, very soft and fleecy and warm.

"Shall we have another turn on the Grounds before the Doctor’s car——"
Sherbrand was beginning, when the Chief removed the Wireless head-band
and came forward.

"Miss Saxham, I must detain you for a minute, I am afraid."

Sherbrand went out of the hut.  At a sign the pale clerk evaporated.
Sir Roland moved nearer to Patrine.  How old he looked! she thought.

"You are done up!  _Esquinté_, aren’t you?’

"I am tired, but neither done up nor the other thing. Miss Saxham, you
just now put me in possession of the details of a Suffragist plot.  The
friend of a friend of yours, backed by some other viragoes of the
militant order, intends—I quote your own words!—to a bid for a diet of
skilly, and prison-yard exercise, by interrupting the after-dinner
speakers at the Mansion House Banquet on Monday night. Kindly let her
know from me that the stewards will be prepared to prevent her doing
so,—and tell her that women will never make successful conspirators
until they learn to hold their tongues!  Now, good-night.  Your
incautiousness has rendered Miss Helvellyn a service.  She will bless it
one day if she doesn’t now."

He took Patrine’s hand in his frank, strong clasp.  The haggard lines on
the keen bronzed face did not mar the beauty of its kindliness.

"You have given her a chance.  Let’s hope she makes the most of it.  To
herd with the—wild she-asses isn’t the way to serve her sex.  Rowdiness
and shrieking will never get the Vote for Women.  Burning down empty
country-houses won’t land a female Member in the House of Parliament. It
isn’t Propaganda to—behave like an improper goose.  Mind you tell her!
That you, Saxham?" as a tall figure came towards them out of the
glimmering darkness fitfully splashed by the petrol-flares now burnt
down and dying out.  "Best take your niece home to Harley Street, she is
thoroughly tired.  Sherbrand and myself and Mr. Burgin here are good for
hours yet."

                             *CHAPTER XLII*

                        *SAXHAM BREAKS THE NEWS*

"Owen! ..."

Lynette was dressed in a delicate, filmy black chiffon dinner-gown, and
as Saxham’s latch-key clicked in the front door-lock and she rose up out
of the tail carved armchair that stood beside the large hall fireplace,
her paleness seemed to diffuse light, like the whiteness of the moon.

"Owen ... He is not ... What ..."

Her wide bright glance went past the tall wrapped-up figure of Patrine
to the taller shape that bulked behind her. No small active boy-form
danced in its wake.  She put out her arms, groping blindly—swayed and
would have fallen, but that Saxham strode past Patrine, caught the
slender figure in his powerful embrace, turned and carried his wife away
down the short corridor that led to the consulting-room.

"Miss Pat, my dear!  There’s cold supper all laid an’ ready waitin’ in
the dining-room.  By the Doctor’s special orders, and I was to see you

Thus Mrs. Keyse, now for years housekeeper at Harley Street, a little
light-haired woman, common of speech and innocent of grammar, but a
pearl of price in the Doctor’s estimation and her mistress’s right hand.

"Don’t say they fed you at ’Endon on ’am and salad an’ pigeon-pie.
Trash is the word," said Mrs. Keyse, "for resturong pastry, and them
there piegeons, if language could be given ’em, would bear me out in
what I say."

But Patrine refused baked meats, submitting to be escorted to her room
and tenderly fussed over by the kind, Cockney-tongued little woman, and
yellow-haired pink-cheeked thirteen-year-old Janey, out of whose small
triangular face looked the honest grey eyes of W. Keyse.

Both Mrs. Keyse and Janey had been crying, for Keyse, who acted as the
Doctor’s chauffeur, had broken bad news in the kitchen-regions.  Master
Bawne, according to Keyse, had been taken for a trip in one of them
Hairos by a German flying-bloke, and it was feared—not having returned
or been heard of—that Something or Other had gone wrong.

Mrs. Keyse, a born optimist, rejected the idea of accident or casualty
with ringing sniffs of incredulity.  Master Bawne, the blessed dear! had
prob’ly bin kidnup’ by some foreign Nobleman wanting a Nair.  Trust a
German, Mrs. Keyse would never! having when a young woman in service at
Alexandra Crescent, Kentish Town, N.W., been treated something frightful
by a young man who travelled in shaving-sets of German silver and other
fancy articles of Teuton origin.  Keyse must often have heard her
mention That There Green?

Keyse responded, lighting his pipe, for his wife and daughter had
accompanied him to their own private parlour in the basement, looking
out across the yard to the garage over which Billy and Janey had been

"Twice a day since you and me stood up before the dodger to git married.
But you never tipped me as ’ow the bloke was a bloomin’ Fritzer before.
’Ow do you make it out?  Switch me on to the notion!  ’Cos o’ somethink
in the German nickel ’e drummed in gettin’ into ’im an’ affectin’ ’is

Mrs. Keyse, impervious to sarcasm as incapable of grammar, maintained
that the subject under discussion had spoke wiv’ a Naxent particularly
noticeable when upset.  Broken English, in moments of passion, with red
eyes and white ’air simpular to one o’ them Verbenas, had in conjunction
with a decided bent towards bigamy, and an appetite for other people’s
savings, distinguished That There Green.

W. Keyse and Janey went off to bed, and the other servants, instructed
through the Doctor’s consulting-room speaking-pipe, shut up the house
and retired, all save the night-maid who answered the telephone, and
attended to the midnight rings at the hall-door.  But Mrs. Keyse did not
follow the household.  The Doctor and Mrs. Saxham were still shut up
together in the consulting-room. Mrs. Keyse owned to herself that she
had talked all that rubbage about That There Green and cetra, to hide
that her heart was as water in her bosom, and that she trimbled and
shook all over after the fashion of them Fancy shapes of Chicken in
Haspeck, or Coffin cream, or Blue Mange coloured with Scotch Anneal.

It grew late and later.  The flares on the Flying Ground, many times
renewed, had died down to greasy black ash in the scorched and dented
buckets, before there was a movement or a sound in the dark
consulting-room.  Then the woman who sat in the chair sighed, and the
long quivering breath she drew, stirred the thick hair of the man who
knelt upon the floor before her, holding her in his arms.


"My wife!"

The sigh that had escaped her seemed to flutter through the unlighted
room like some dusky-winged creature of the darkness.  She leaned her
face upon his brow, pressing her lips upon the smooth place above the
broad meeting eyebrows. The first kiss she had ever given Saxham had
been placed just there.  Now the sweet lips were cold.  He could feel
how the delicate white teeth were set behind them. Had she relaxed her
grip upon herself he knew she must have cried aloud.  Nor could he help
her save by his sustaining hold, and the silence of a grief only
equalled by her own.  Thus they had remained, speechless through the
hours; drawn closer than ever by the anguish of mutual loss.

Now she stirred in Saxham’s arms, and spoke collectedly:

"Tell me Bawne is not—dead!  Give me courage to go on waiting.  And yet,
do not help me to deceive myself or you, with a false hope."

"If the worst had happened," said Saxham, almost appealingly, "should we
not have known it?"

She breathed between stiff lips, trying to control her shuddering:

"Twice to-night I have heard him call me: ’_Mother!_’ and then again,
’_Mother!_’  Now I feel"—she closed her eyes and opened them widely,
staring through the darkness—"that he is wanting me!—wanting you!—as he
never has before.  We were always near till now—he could not realise
what parting meant!"

She fought with sobs, and the tears she could not keep back fell in the
darkness on her husband’s face.  His own were mingled with them.
Perhaps she knew it, as she wiped them away with a touch that was a
caress, saying:

"We must not give in!  We must not fail him!  To abandon hope too soon
would be to fail!"

Courage had come to her with the paling of the stars and the greying in
the East that meant the dayspring.  She was full of solicitude for
Saxham’s weariness, as he rose up stiffly as a knight who has watched
his armour through the long hours, kneeling on the threshold of the
Sanctuary, and knows with the waning of the flame in the lamp before the
Tabernacle that his vigil is over and done.

"You are tired—so tired!  Dear Owen, go to bed now, if only for an hour
or two.  There will be news of him very soon now—there _must_ be news!"

Saxham took a delicate fleecy wrap from a chair and put it about her,
for she shivered in the raw chill of the unsunned morning air.  Then he
touched the blind, and it rolled up upon a vista of backyard and garage.
The shriek of an engine and the vibrating passage of an early train
through Portland Road Tube Railway came into their ears, standing
together at the open window, as Dawn in her streaming crocus veil peeped
shyly through the vast smoke-bank that broods upon the morning face of
London, engendered by the innumerable little fires of those among her
five millions who must rise and eat, and go forth to labour ere yet it
is fairly day.

"Owen, tell me!  What is coming?  What is it I feel, here and here?"

She turned upon her husband suddenly with the question, touching her
brow and heart lightly and fixing on him her widely opened eyes.  The
haunted look of Beatrice had come back to them.  His wife’s strange
likeness to the Guido portrait in the Barberini Palace Gallery—the
tragic face with the wistful eyes, that despite the asseverations of the
learned and critical will be associated as long as its canvas hangs
together with the Daughter of the Cenci—leaped up in her at this hour to
startle him afresh.

"What is in the air?" she asked.  "What changes are taking place about
us?  What great and horrible Thing is moving,—moving towards us as we
stand together here?"

Saxham’s powerful arm went round her protectingly.  He answered:

"You shall know, my love, my comrade.  In confidence—I am permitted to
tell you this much.  We stand upon the very brink of international War!"

She looked at him and in the golden eyes he read courage, endurance and
tenderness.  Love that would be changeless. Fidelity through life beyond
Death to the Life that is for evermore.

"You mean that Austro-Hungary will attack Servia, and that Russia will

"As Austria intends, no doubt," said Saxham shrugging, "prompted by her
Mentor and Ally at Berlin.  In him we have a personality blatantly vain,
immensely egoistic, feverishly energetic, imbued to the verge of
monomania with the idea of his own appointment by the Almighty—as they
understand Him in Germany—to be Imperial leader of nations and arbiter
of the destinies of Kings!"

He went on:

"Suppose the Great Powers of the World a row of straw bee-skeps,
susceptible of being upset by a Hohenzollern kick!  Will the mailed toe
of Imperial Germany refrain from giving it—invading France through the
lost Alsace-Lorraine provinces, the moment Austria-Hungary gets to grips
with the Russian bear?  Britain is France’s ally, bound in Honour to
support her.  Now you understand what vital questions the Chancellories
of the world were burning electric light and brain-power and eyesight
over, the long night through, while you and I——"

She stopped him:

"You make me think!—You have told me—That man who has taken my darling
is a German Flying Officer.  He may have had some urgent, secret reason
for quitting England at once!"

"It is more than probable that he carried dispatches of importance.  But
I can answer no questions on that point. I should be verging, if I did,
on a betrayal of confidence."

Lynette Saxham looked at her husband earnestly, and the change wrought
in her by the long night’s vigil of sorrow sent a pang through the man’s
heart.  That line of anxiety between the slender eyebrows and the bluish
shadows round the golden eyes came to him, like the sorrowful sweetness
of the exquisite lips, out of the past.

"Why do the Germans hate us?" she asked, and he answered wearily and

"As the nation with which Germany runs neck and neck in military
armament, national wealth and influence, Germans pay us British the
compliment of dislike. German ambition, spreading rank and high, is
checked in the attainment of its ends even by our geographical position.
We carry in our veins too large a share of Teutonic blood, to be
ingratiating or subservient to our arrogant and domineering neighbours.
What hatred is bitterer than racial hatred? Where is enmity deadlier
than that one finds existing between women and men of kindred blood?"

The face of David, fair and debonair, rose up before Saxham as he said
it.  Strange! that even while he thanked his stars for David’s ancient
treachery, the fact of the betrayal should rankle in the Doctor still.

"Nowhere is there hatred more terrible.  Listen, Owen—there is something
I want to tell you——"

Lynette shivered and drew the fleecy shawl more closely about her white
bare throat, and the slender shoulders and arms that were revealed
through the laces of her filmy dinner-gown:

"In the first days of the Siege of Gueldersdorp, a woman from the native
stad, the wife of a Barala herd, who came to the Convent for medicine
and soup for a sick _piccanin_—told the Mother that long before the
Orange Free State threw in its lot with the Transvaal—long before Oom
Paul and Vader Steyn ordered that all _rooinek_ soldiers sent by Groot
Brittanje to South Africa should quit the country—the Barala could not
sleep in their kraals at night ’_for the going of the creatures_.’  Not
all the creatures of prey—the Eaters of Flesh—the crows and the
_aasvogels_, the wild dogs and jackals, the _aard_-wolves, and hyænas.
But the hartebeest and springbok and prongbuck and rietbuck; with the
little gazelles and tiny antelopes, the _dassies_ and hares, and all the
shy, wild harmless things that are stalked and shot for what is called
sport, by most men and some women—they passed away in multitudes each
night until just before the dawn.  Even the _meerkat_ and the leopard
went, the baboons and snakes and the big lizards.  Barala trackers
followed the trails North to the Marches of the Okavango—and farther
still into the Mabunda country—the woman told us—and their wise men had
warned them that it was a _teeken_ of War to come."

Her wistful eyes strained towards the East, where between the crowded
roofs of the vast City and the shadowy purple day-brow, showed a clear
wide band of crocus-yellow, melting into exquisite hyacinth-blue.

"Perhaps I am like the antelope and the hares and the wild-bucks and the
other creatures.  It may be that this nameless Thing that I have felt
coming nearer and nearer is War," said Lynette.  Then she winced as
though the net had whirled and fallen, and the trident pierced, and
cried out irrepressibly: "If so—Bawne will be out there unprotected—in
the midst of it!  Owen!—do you hear me?  How can you stand there so
calmly when such a thing may be? How—oh!—how could you consent to his

Saxham’s square face was set like a mask in the stern effort for
self-control.  He was in spirit with the Navigating Lieutenant on the
upper bridge of H.M.S. _Rigasamos_, hearkening to the drone of an
aëroplane struggling against the thrust of a north-west gale....  He
heard the double knock of a back-fire, and heard men talking about
engine-trouble.  Even as he brought himself back to say quietly:

"I did as you would have done in the same circumstances. If the same
voice that spoke to me had virtually said to you: ’_Here stands your
only son, a child in years and yet a man for England!  Will you let him
go?_’  Would you not have consented?  If you deny, I shall tell you that
I know my wife better than she knows herself!"

"’_A child in years—a man for England_....’"  The fold between her
slender eyebrows deepened and the delicate sensitive upper-lip lifted,
showing the white, slightly irregular teeth.  "I do not understand," she
said piteously; "Was there any question of an order to be carried out?—a
duty to be done?"

"There was a question to be settled," said Saxham, "involving Bawne’s
whole future.  Here and Hereafter—and the question was this: Whether the
son you have given me is worthy of his mother, or whether he has
inherited any twist of brain, any degenerate and wretched weakness from
the father whom your pure hand saved and led back, my guardian Saint, my
heart’s beloved!—from the very threshold of the gates of Hell."

"Owen!  Don’t speak so of yourself.  I will not hear it. You had been so
wronged—driven beside yourself by misfortune and betrayal.  You were not
responsible——"  She covered the little ears with the slender hands.  He
took the hands down and kissed them, and held them in his own, as he
went on:

"That is what I should like to believe.  But—the truth is very
different.  There was—there is still, I suppose—a spot of weakness in
me.  A bubble of air in the casting—a flaw in the wrought steel."  He
looked like wrought steel as he spoke; "I had to be sure our boy is
sound, mentally and morally as he is physically.  Fit—in the fullest and
highest sense of the word.  Rather than have the doubt," said Saxham,
"or the knowledge that confirms the doubt, I would——"

"No, no!"  She tried to free her slender hands, but the Doctor’s hold
was as inexorable as gentle.  "You must not say—that!  I cannot bear——"

"Ah, my poor love, you, too, have feared lest the sins of the father
might some day be visited on the son!" said Saxham with a strange
mingling of pity and sorrow and exultation.  "Well, now for your
comfort, believe they will not be.  Bawne is all yours, Lynette.  Young
as he is, he has learned to master Self and conquer Fear.  Obedience,
Duty, and Honour are welded into the metal of his character.  If I had
not been my boy’s father, I should have envied that man—knowing what I
have learned to-day. And therefore I do not grudge—I give freely——"

"You give—you do not grudge——"  She suddenly wrenched away her hands and
said in a tone that chilled Saxham:

"Owen, do you speak like this because you believe Bawne is—dead?"

The Doctor made answer:

"I believe that if God so decree our boy will yet be given back to us.
As far as knowledge goes—except for one fact I am little wiser than

"I must know what that one thing is!  You will tell me now, and all!"

The sun was rushing up over East London in a gloriole of golden fire.
To her husband’s thought she was like some slender Roman patrician at
the stake, as she stood up against the background of flaming splendour,
and waited to hear the worst.

                            *CHAPTER XLIII*

                          *THE PLUNDERED NEST*

If that story of the aëroplane over the North Sea in the thickening
dark, fighting East against the side-thrust of the nor’-west gale, with
the dropping revolutions and the hiccuping engine, had seemed desperate
before, it was ghastly now.  Saxham’s last hope died as he told.  When
he had done, Lynette said with strange, unnatural composure:

"Perhaps I have loved our child too much, and that is why he is taken
from me....  And yet how can a mother love by measure and by rule?  Did
Our Lady withhold any part of her love from her Divine Child?  Did not
the dearest of all earthly mothers say to me—in that waking Vision, the
God-given reality of which I have never doubted—’_Be to a son of Owen’s
what I have been to you!_’"

Her strained composure gave way.  Her face quivered and the tears broke
forth.  She nipped her trembling lips close and shut her quivering
eyelids with her fingers, but the fountains were unsealed, and she wept.
Perhaps it was better so.  She dried her eyes presently, and yielding to
Saxham’s persuasions in that she consented to go and lie down, she came
into his embrace and laid her arms about his neck and kissed him with
wifely tenderness, saying:

"I will answer now, what you said a little while ago.  You shall see
under the only leaf of my heart, Owen, that has ever been folded down
over a secret kept from you.  When my boy was to be born, and I was weak
and suffering, the doubt—the dread, that has haunted and tortured you,
assailed me and made me wretched—for a little while. Then I gathered
together, jealously, every noble, true and brave thing you had ever done
for me or for others; every good deed of kindness, every unselfish
tender thought.  I asked you to take me with you to visit your poorer
patients. I saw their hollow eyes brighten and heard them bless you when
you turned from their bedsides to carry comfort and help elsewhere.  And
I wrote down these things in a book. They shine from its pages like
jewels.  When I die it was to be given to Bawne....  It will be if he
lives to come back to us....  There is a prayer at the end that, in His
goodness, God might give me in my boy a man like you!"

He went with her to the door and looked after her earnestly as she
passed down the corridor out of his sight.

Then he locked himself in, and went back to his chair at the
consulting-room table.  The bright boy had stood there beside him a few
short hours before.  He was there now, pleading with a silent voice,
coaxing with unseen looks, tugging with invisible hands.  He always
would be. Though Time softened the mother’s anguish of loss, there would
be no forgetfulness for Saxham, the grim stern man whose nature was
Fidelity.  Other children might yet call the Dop Doctor father, but
their little fingers would never blur the imprint of the firstborn’s
babyish hand upon his heart.

Perhaps you can see the man, wan and haggard and unshaven, trying to
attend to the pressing correspondence that had accumulated since the
previous noon.  Even as, to the shrill crying of the Fleet bugles, a
windy grey day broke over the choppy Solent, showing the huge pageant of
Sea Power ready for the King.

Down forty-mile avenues of floating steel fortresses one might follow
Majesty, with a great muster of Naval sea-planes and aëroplanes
manoeuvring somewhat wildly overhead.

As Saxham sat there with Fate’s trident rankling in him, those lights he
had spoken of were burning behind closely-curtained windows at the
Admiralty and at the Foreign Office, and at the Belgian and German
Embassies.  In Berlin and Vienna, in Brussels and Paris and St.
Petersburg—later to cast off its Teutonic name in loathing and be
Petrograd—similar phenomena might have been observed. "Austria was going
to take some step," as Prince Lichnowsky had nervously stated to
Britain’s Foreign Secretary, adding that he regarded the situation as
very uncomfortable. And the German Foreign Secretary ingenuously
confided to the British Chargé d’Affaires in Berlin that it was the
intention of Austria-Hungary to offer Serbia a pill which she could not
swallow, in the Note demanding the removal of all officers and
functionaries guilty of propaganda against the Dual Monarchy, presented
by Baron Giesel at Belgrade, on the 24th of July.  The ultimatum was to
be accepted or rejected within forty-eight hours, a sweeping proviso, in
which one recognises the Hohenzollern touch.

The world trembled on the brink of Armageddon.  Men even then were
doubtful as to the issue.  It might yet, some said, be Peace.  But if
Man, who arrives at conclusions by intellectual processes, was unsure,
not so things that are guided merely by Instinct.  Like the wise
creatures of Natal and the Transvaal and Bechuanaland in 1900, these
knew quite well that War was in the air.

It is on record that in these days preceding the Great Calamity, huge
droves of wild pig, great herds of deer and small bands of the rarer
elk, with bears, hares, martens, and foxes, evacuated the forests of
Bavaria and South Germany for the mountain fastnesses of Switzerland.
Immense flights of birds not usually migratory, partridges, pheasants,
grouse, plover, wild-doves and water-fowl went South with the animals.
Under cover of night the colossal game-preserves of East Prussia emptied
into Poland—their furred and feathered peoples passing into the
labyrinthine swamps of the Russian Dnieper and Dniester—spreading the
news, sending the alarm before them:

"_Man is coming, and with him War!_"

Man was coming.  That strange trembling of the earth had warned its
creatures, even before the tramp, tramp, tramp of millions of marching
feet, the rumbling that betokened the slow but sure approach of Titanic
death-engines, told Fine Ears to seek safety in flight, before the
cataclysm of human flesh and iron and steel, and chemicals a thousand
times more deadly, rolled down to overwhelm, and destroy.  Hence through
those July nights the sound of rushing wings above, and stealthy pads,
and trotting hoofs, and heavy bodies crashing through sedge and brake
and underbrush, hardly for a moment ceased.  Puffs of sweet wild breath,
and musky odours from hidden lairs; tufts of hair upon the thorns, and
crowded spoor upon the dust of the forest-paths or the mud of the
river-banks, told of their going, to those who were skilled to read such
signs. But the same mysterious instinct that urged them to flight, bade
the eagle and vulture that prey upon carrion, the raven and owl and
crow, the wolf and lynx be on the alert, for the table of Earth would
shortly be spread for them as never before in the whole History of War.
And their hoarse croaking and hooting and baying and barking answered:
War, War, War!

                             *CHAPTER XLIV*

                          *PATRINE REMEMBERS*

Patrine knelt beside the bed in her charming chintz-draped,
white-enamelled room at Harley Street, and clumsily thanked God for
having taken away von Herrnung. She petitioned that darling Bawne might
be quickly found and brought back, and that if he were not, Lynette
might not die.  And she wound up with ’Our Father,’ rather imperfectly
remembered, and got into bed wondering whether Sherbrand would be
pleased if he could know her not quite as irreligious as she had
boasted—and lay revelling drowsily in the comfort of cool
lavender-scented linen, until she fell asleep.

She had not tasted sleep for nights: age-long nights of broad staring
wakefulness.  Now Somnos, the gentle brother of Thanatos, took her and
lapped her divinely round. She felt herself drifting away on a
wide-flowing tide of deep sweet restfulness.  Then it was as though an
electric light were suddenly switched on in the dark galleries of her
brain. Insomnia, the malevolent hag-witch, jests thus merrily with her
victims, suffering them to taste sleep, and then whisking the cup away.
Like many other practical jests, this ends in breakdown and brain-fever,
or drives its victims to the chemist for sleepy drugs, and to the
madhouse subsequently.

In the middle of the dazzling cocoon-shaped patch of brightness thus
created, Patrine recognized the outlines of an ornamental fountain that
occupied the centre of the vestibule leading to the supper-room of the
Upas Club. Executed in the New Art style of sculpture, of white and
black, and tawny marble, it was shaded by tall palms with gilded leaves.

On low pedestals rising from the rim of the shallow oval basin of the
fountain were three nude life-sized shapes delicately tinted, with gilt
hair, carmined lips, darkened eyebrows, vague round eyes of pale blue.
They had the flattened breasts and narrow hips of masculine adolescence
with women’s faces and shoulders, arms and thighs.  One held a finger
hushingly on its lip; another was putting on a black vizard through
which its pale eyes peeped slyly, the third was smiling over the rim of
a golden drinking-cup.  The Three were sharing a pleasant secret between
them—or so it had seemed that night to Patrine.

After complying with certain formalities, and paying a heavy fee for
admission, Patrine with her friend had passed through to a wonderfully
decorated supper-room with a big grill at the end, where white-capped
cooks were busy with savoury things.  Wind and strings filled the room
with great waves of music.  Liveried attendants were serving champagne
in crystal jugs to men and women seated supping at the
daintily-appointed tables.  The hot eyes and lividly-pale or
purple-flushed faces of many of the revellers, already told their tale
of excess.

The champagne at a guinea a jug, a speciality of the Upas, had seemed
excellent to Patrine.  She was out for enjoyment, and fizz made you feel
top-hole.  They had supped—was it lobster Américaine or grilled oysters
that had preceded the other things?—when there came a change in the
music.  The unseen orchestra sighing and thrilling forth the amorous
phrases of _Samson et Dalila_, leaped all at once into another familiar
theme.  To wit, the dance of the Jaguars in the Jungle, with its wail,
clang, clash and growl as of strange, discordant, exotic instruments.

"Drums covered with serpent-skin, gombos of elephant-tusk, human
skull-rattles and all the paraphernalia of Voodoo," to quote Lady

Couples rose, and began passing out through a wide curtained exit at the
farther end of the supper-room.  The music grew madder.  Patrine,
laughing, took von Herrnung’s offered arm.

"Now," he told her, "you are going to see something that is very _chic_!
We shall dance in the Hall of the Hundred Pillars!"

"How frightfully ripping!" said Patrine.

Thus they joined the mob of people—a singularly quiet mob,—and passed
through the heavy, curtained entrance. The much-talked-of Hall was
merely a big circular ballroom, lighted by groups of electric lilies,
set about with pillars of tinted glass, slanting from a dado of black
marble, ending at a broad frieze of black beneath the ceiling-dome.
Theatrical and tawdry, gaudy and glittering, the scheme of decoration
reminded Patrine of the inside of a solitaire marble.  The walls of
fierce bright orange were striped in curving oblique and transverse
lines of black-and-silver, the silver dome was decorated with similarly
curving lines of orange-and-black.

To the strange barbaric music of the dance from São Paulo men and women
were gyrating and posturing, gliding and pausing, as other men and women
had done at the Milles Plaisirs.  Presently Patrine and her friend were
revolving like the others, in the Valse with the hesitations and the
Tango steps in it.  You had only to know Tango and the thing came
easily—or you imagined it did, after so much champagne.  Reflected in
the wall and ceiling-mirrors the girl had seen herself, twisting and
twirling amidst the mob of dancers, with her head thrown back, and her
long eyes blazing, and her wide red mouth laughing wantonly, before the
black-and-orange-and-silver walls, the silver-and-black-and-orange dome
spun giddily round her with the mob of dancers. Dazed, she had shut her
eyes.  She had felt herself being hurried somewhere—out of the pillared

She shivered, lying there in the sunshine remembering.... She recalled
von Herrnung’s face as they had passed out of velvet-curtained,
soundless darkness into a tapestry-hung, softly-carpeted corridor.  The
inner angles of the eyebrows were lifted, the laughing mouth under the
red-rolled moustache displayed the big white teeth in a tigerish way.
The pupils of his eyes were dilated, the irises pale as water.  He had
looked at her curiously, and said with a strange accent:

"So, Isis, you are mine now!"

"I suppose so!"

"I did not suppose so.  The experience has been very real for me.  Shall
we go back—or would you prefer——"

She said with her face turned from him sullenly:

"I should prefer to go—to where I live!"

He had been loth to let her go.  Then under a promise of renewal of
those strange, shameful, secret relations, he had wrapped her
theatre-mantle about her, and helped her arrange her lace scarf about
her head, and taken her through a passage back to the vestibule where
the three ambiguous statues stood about the central fountain, upon whose
restless jet of water played shifting lights of different hues. By some
arrangement of those who had planned the Upas, there faced you as you
issued with your companion from the furtive side-passage the figure that
had its finger on its smiling, carmined lips....

And then—the stale air of London at dawn in midsummer. In the shabby
side-street where long ranks of private cars stood waiting, von Herrnung
had signalled the chauffeur of one of them—could the man have been the
German who had leered at her that day at Hendon?—and then he had put her
in, and followed her, and taken her back to Berkeley Square....

It irked her to remember that she had told to the sleepy manservant who
had admitted her at 3 A.M. an absolutely supererogatory falsehood to
account for her return at that belated hour.  For Lady Beau wouldn’t
have bothered if you’d arrived with the milkman, so long as you turned
up smiling at her bedside with your fountain-pen, and her coroneted
paper-pad, when she’d had her early grape-fruit, and roll, and coffee,
and was ready to tackle her morning mail.

Patrine must be discreet.  Cautious.  Must tell no lies of the
unnecessary kind.  For even though von Herrnung had been removed, just
when his attitude had become formidable and menacing—there might yet be
pitfalls of her own digging to brave and shun.

Pitfalls ... Perils ... As she lay wakeful, conscious through shut
eyelids of the white mouldings of the ceiling her face was turned to,
suddenly a keen sharp terror ran her through.  She had heard her own
voice say to von Herrnung:

"My God!  Can’t you understand that I ask nothing better than never to
see nor hear of you again!"

He had mocked her with his hateful smile, and she had not understood.

"Under no—possible conditions?  Just think a bit, my dear!  Because—to
burn one’s boats behind one—that is not prudent at all!"

And later:

"You give me to understand that whatever happens—_whatever happens_—you
will have nothing more to do with me?"

Idiot!—besotted idiot!  She leaped up in the bed, visualising the peril,
clearly as though a shutter had snapped back within her brain.  Horror
froze her, realising the shame she might live to bring upon those who
loved Patrine.  Uncle Owen ... Lynette ... Bawne....

Mildred and Irma were minor considerations, shadowy silhouettes,
negative quantities.  Neither Irma nor Mildred had ever loved Patrine.
Dad had though.  Poor, dear Dad! She was glad he wasn’t alive now.  And
Margot ... Would Kittums cut one if—that happened?  And—Sherbrand! A
blush burned over her, and she flung herself face downwards, burying her
scorching face among the pillows, stifling the scream that the sheer
torture wrung from her, by nipping a fold of the smooth linen in her

So she lay and writhed on the red-hot griddle of her anguished
recollection, until a neat housemaid knocked at the door and brought her
morning tea.  And as she set down the emptied cup, someone else knocked,
and opened the door softly, and Patrine turned—to meet the look of

And then, though her struggling conscience warned her that she was
unworthy to be held in arms so pure, she cried out wildly, and felt
herself enfolded, and the fierce emotional tumult within her broke forth
in wild sobs and drenching tears.  She heard herself saying:

"I would have given my life over and over to have saved you from grief
like this!"

And yet these were not the words she would have spoken. We are actors
often and often when we least suspect ourselves, even when Calamity with
one swift stroke of the scalpel has divided the palpitating flesh and
quivering nerves down to the living bone.

"I would have given my life!" she wept, and Lynette seated by the
bedside and bending over her, answered tenderly:

"I know it, my kind heart!  You have always loved him.  You wished him
not to go—you begged Owen not to allow——"

There was unutterable loyalty in the breaking of the sentence: "He
thought it best.  I trust my husband," said the sweet voice.  "But yet I
thank you, dear one, for your loyalty to me."

"Don’t touch me!  I’m not fit!" Patrine stammered, resisting the
mothering, encircling embrace.  But the cup of pure sweetness was held
to her feverish lips, she craved it too much to thrust it from her.  You
can see her coming out of the bed in a galumphing outburst of
passionate, remorseful tenderness:

"Here is my place!—here!" she gulped out brokenly, hiding her wet face
on the elder woman’s knees.  Together they made a group not unlike
Bouguerau’s great canvas of the Consolatrix, save that there was no
dead, lovely boy lying amidst the scattered petals of the fallen roses
on the stone.  Perhaps if there had been and the worst known, Bawne
Saxham’s mother could hardly have suffered more.

Not to understand ... not to be sure.  To be bereaved, and never to know
just how the Beloved was taken from you....  Can there be anything more
fantastically horrible than this, the fate of thousands of sorrowing
women since the beginning of the Great War?

It was Sunday morning, brilliant and hot even for July weather.  The
clangour of church-bells mingled with the clashing of milk-cans, and the
scent of pot-roses mingled with the hot smell of London in midsummer.
Lynette shivered in spite of the sultriness, and looked down at the
girl, spilt out at her knees under the meretricious splendour of her
dead beech-leaf hair.  She did not—how could she?—fathom the secret of
such wretchedness, but love and pity flooded her heart, thawed out of
its frozen misery by the vital warmth of the contact.  She drew the
unresisting arms upwards and about her, and lifted the prone head and
took it to her bosom, saying:

"My poor girl!  My dear Patrine!"

They were silent awhile.  Then Lynette asked, her soft breath stirring
the heavy tresses:

"Why did you do this, dearest?  Wasn’t it sufficiently beautiful?"

Patrine choked out, blazing crimson to the tips of her little ears:

"No!  At least!—It is hideous now and he hated it!  I—I had to tell
him," a sob and a laugh tangled together, "it was the effect of Paris

Lynette smiled, though the golden eyes were running over: "Bawne thinks
so much of you, always!"

"I don’t deserve that any one should!"

"Nobody shall speak ill before me of any one I care for! Why did you

For a vision had flashed into the brain of Patrine, of all the world
mocking and jeering and vilifying, and Saxham and Lynette upholding and
defending David’s daughter, who had brought disgrace upon them.  She
lifted her head and released herself almost roughly from Lynette’s
embrace. She stooped down and took the hem of Mrs. Saxham’s gown and
kissed it, and rose up looking wonderfully big and stately, and
extraordinarily tall.

"I love you!" she said in her large warm voice.  "You are the best woman
I ever met or shall meet, and I am a rotten bad hat!  Not worth a
penn’orth of monkey-nuts, take my word for it!  But—if somebody like you
had been my mother—perhaps there’d have been something to show for it

Lynette might have replied, but just then through the quiet house,
unnaturally still without the boyish voice and the boyish laughter, and
the clumping of little thick-soled brogues upon the stairs and in the
passages, there sounded the sharp whirring ting-a-ting of the hall
telephone-bell. She turned and was gone with no more noise than a thrush
makes in departure.  Left alone, Patrine threw on her bathrobe over the
thin nightgown of revealing transparency, lined with the opulent beauty
that captures the desires of men, and looked at her fair reflection in
the long cheval-glass, smiling with something of the subtlety of the
androgynous genius of the Upas Club fountain—the figure that faced the
guests as they entered, tying a vizard over its mocking eyes.

"You’re worse even than I thought you!" Patrine said calmly to Patrine,
"but now you know what he meant by what he said, you’re not going to
trust to Chance and Luck. You’re going—for Uncle Owen’s sake, and Aunt
Lynette’s, and Bawne’s—and Mother’s and Irma’s and your own—don’t
pretend you’re a victim!—to marry Sherbrand, the Flying Man!"

Not a notion of any possible or eventual wrong or injury to Sherbrand
troubled her conscience.  She had yet to develop on the side of moral
sensitiveness.  Responsibility towards God, and duty towards her
neighbour—the sense of these two obligations that are the foundation and
cornerstone of Christianity—had not as yet awakened in Patrine.

She liked Sherbrand.  It troubled her more that he had not the _cachet_
of one of the great public Schools, than to know him poor, with his four
hundred _per annum_—as the proverbial church-mouse.  But she herself was
not altogether penniless.  There would be a hundred and fifty pounds a
year for Patrine when she married; derived from moneys bequeathed to his
daughter’s children by Grandpapa Lee Hailey, strictly tied up and
protected by various legal provisos, from depredations on the part of
the unknown possessive male.

Five hundred and fifty between them.  Anyhow, she told herself, that was
better than a jab in the eye with a burnt stick.  How soon might the
marriage be brought off? One must bend one’s energies to the solving of
that question.  How many sleepless nights—they were horribly
unbecoming!—lay between Patrine and Security?  The Fear that lurked in
her dried her palate at the question. She felt like the runner of a
Marathon fainting in sight of the goal.

                             *CHAPTER XLV*

                      *FLOTSAM FROM THE NORTH SEA*

On Monday morning, July 20th, under a flying double-column of Naval
Goody Two Shoes and aëroplanes, the King led forth his Fleets for
tactical exercises in the Channel. There were pictures on the screens at
the music-halls that night and for many nights after, that evoked from
huge audiences tremendous outbursts of patriotic clapping. Hence first
blood in the Great War scores to Lil, belonging to the most ancient of
all professions—who had accepted the invitation proffered by a Teutonic
stranger to join the familiar crowd on the Empire Promenade.

The German paid for drinks.  A friend joined him. There were more
drinks, and the two men began to talk, discussing the _ultimatum_
expected from Austria-Hungary, and the inevitable refusal of Belgrade to
eat Vienna humble-pie.  War with Russia must ensue.  They were cheering
in Berlin that night for _Krieg mit Russland_.

"It must come sometime," said Lil’s patron in an undertone to his crony.
"Why then should it not happen now?"

"War with Russia means war with France!" the other returned in the same

"And war with France a reckoning with these pig-dogs!" snarled Lil’s
temporary owner.  "If the Serbians and Russes are to be smacked—good!
If the French—good also!  If the English, a thousand times the better!"

"Let us hope," said the more placable Teuton, emptying his second
liqueur-glass of Kümmel—"that it will not be this time as at the affair
of Agadir!"

"We are ready!" said Lil’s patron with an oath.  "We have seven millions
of men ready, and two thousand millions of cartridges, and for shell—one
would not have dreamed the world held so much steel packed with
super-explosive.  No, no!  _Diesmal wird es nicht sein wie in der

He inquired as they left the bar and moved to where Lil, steeped in the
Pictures, was standing at the front of the Promenade:

"What are these _Gottverflucht_ jackasses braying about?"

The jackasses were lustily cheering the portrait of Admiral Sir John
Rushworth Jellicoe, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet—now flung upon
the screen.  And the jackasses got upon their feet with a sound as
though the packed house were tumbling to pieces, and the Orchestra
changed on the final bar of "Rule Britannia!" and the more belligerent
of the two Teutons leaned over the barricade and hissed malignantly, as
wind and strings crashed tumultuously into "God save the King!"

The row broke out in the Promenade as the Royal portrait flashed out and
faded.  A German voice swore shrilly, another expostulated, and a woman
screamed and screamed....

"’Ere!  What’s up, what’s up now along o’ you, young woman?" demanded a
burly gold-braided Commissionaire, thrusting through the staring crowd
that had gathered. He dragged Lil, still screeching and clawing, from
the windpipe of her dishevelled patron, adding, "Do you call this pretty
be’aviour?  I’m ashamed o’ you—I am!"

"He hissed....  The —— hissed the King!" Lil gasped, scarlet and
vituperative and still clawing.  "Let me git at ’im!  Let me——"

"No, hold her tight!  It is a lie!  She is drunk!" snarled the German
who had hissed.  His necktie, a choice thing in Berlin haberdashery,
much sported on the Unter den Linden, was plucked up by the roots, and a
broad bleeding scratch adorned his flushed and angry features.  But at
the suggestion that he should give the offender in charge of the Police,
he melted with his companion into the thinnest of thin air, and Lil did
not spend the night in the cells at Wine Street Police-Station.  There
ought to have been a paragraph in the _Daily Teller_ or the _Morning
Wire_, but it was crowded out by the report—in leaded type—of von
Herrnung’s death and that of the boy, his volunteer passenger, the only
son of Dr. Owen Saxham, M.D., F.R.C.S., M.V.O., whose distinguished
share in the Defence of Gueldersdorp would always be remembered, etc.,
etc., even now that the frank, manly, and courageous policy of General
Botha had established permanent and solid ties of friendship between the
Briton and the Boer.

A sudden freak, perhaps a private bet, had induced the deceased officer,
Captain Count von Herrnung of the Prussian Field Flying Service, son of
a distinguished official of the German Imperial Foreign Office, and hero
of the two days’ flight from Hanover to Paris in the previous April,—to
essay the crossing to Germany at a late hour, and in the face of a
threatening gale.  Another paragraph recorded how the wreck of the
monoplane, "Bird of War" (wrongly described as "the property of
Fanshaw’s Flying School"), "had been found by a passenger-steamer of the
Hamburg Line, bound for Newcastle, floating derelict in the North Sea."

A telephone-call followed the ring that had heralded the stroke of
Fate’s scimitar on that thick bull-neck of Saxham’s.  He answered it
through the roaring in his ears of the North Sea waters that had drowned
the boy.

"Are you there?" came in the voice of the friend so toughly tried, so
faithfully trusted.  "You have heard the report?  Your voice tells me
you have!  Hope, man!—hope!—against everything go on hoping!"

The thick slow answer came stumbling over the wire:

"Have I—grounds for hope?"

Came the prompt reply:

"I say yes!  Dare to despair, when you hear that from me!"

"God bless you, General!"

"Have you—you have not told her?"

Saxham answered, steadying his twitching lips:

"No!—I thought I should like to keep my wife for another hour or two!"

There was a crisp, sharp order:

"Go to her now, and steel her with this from me—that the aëroplane, when
found, had been thoroughly gutted. The First Officer, who is English and
one of our men, swears positively to this.  The ’Gnome’ engine had been
taken out of the stirrups, and the gyroscopic hovering-gear removed
wholesale.  Do you comprehend that this means—a pre-arranged thing?
Listen!—I’ll pound it into you, confound you!  Once—they have been
picked up!  Twice—they have been picked up!  Three times—they have been
picked up!  Go to your wife and tell her so from me!"

The speaker rang off.

But he knew discouragement.  The rapid march of events across the page
of History since the Saturday of von Herrnung’s flight from Hendon had
elicited a check from Official Headquarters.

Without signing the book that all visitors must sign, and cooling your
heels in the anteroom, you are to be admitted to the private sanctum at
the War Office, Whitehall, and the presence of Britain’s Secretary of
State for War.  See him, seated square and upright in a high-backed
leather-covered arm-chair behind a big green cloth covered mahogany
desk, a thinnish, wide-shouldered man, with a nose of the beaky type,
brown crisp hair sprinkled with grey receding from tall sunburned
temples, and deep-set smallish blue eyes, a little weakened by much
recent poring over State documents by electric-light.

The British Government found it incompatible with its present line of
Foreign Policy to take steps towards the recovery of the Foulis Papers.
For forty-five years their duplicates had lain in safe-keeping at the
War Office. They were there now.  That was the Minister’s chief point.

The Foulis War Engine had never been patented—never acquired by the
British War Office.  Such distinction or favour as the tenth Earl had
received from Government had been conferred in recognition of the dead
man’s gallant services to his country, not as the reward of his
inventive gift.  _Ergo_, the British Government could not concern itself
with the theft of the original Plans from Gwyll Castle.  To pursue and
arrest the thief was the affair of the Head of the Clanronald family.
If his lordship chose to drop the matter!—the Colonel’s celebrated
Parliamentary shrug and smile conveyed the rest.

There was another point still.  If the Plans of the War Engine of
Clanronald had once been seen by—alien eyes, the possession of the
formulas did not matter two pence. The cat that had grown grey in the
bag was out of it for good.  In the Colonel’s opinion—a priceless asset
in the highly delicate condition of International Politics—a more
formidable document than the Foulis Plan was the Note which was even
then being placed by Austria’s Representative at Belgrade before the
Serbian Council of Ministers. This, in conjunction with Germany’s
deferred answer to our proposal of a Conference of Representatives of
the Great Powers, and the sudden, secret return of the Emperor of
Germany to Berlin—"justifies Admiralty orders that have been issued,"
said the Minister, "directing our First—ahem!—-Battle Fleet,
concentrated—as it happens!—at Portland, not to disperse for Manoeuvre

The speaker, who had pushed back his chair and crossed his legs, looked
very steadily at Sir Roland as this last sentence very quietly left his
thin lips.  Not a muscle twitched in the other’s lean, keen face.  The
Minister went on:

"Thus I may hope I have made clear to you my view of the situation.  As
for the Flying-officer, Count von Herrnung—we may presume him to have
been—for no doubt he is drowned—a military spy.  The German General
Staff have a preference for employing men belonging to the higher social
circles for work of this kind.  Wonderfully organised, their system of
strategical and political investigation!"

Sir Roland agreed:

"Wonderfully organised, when one goes closely into its
ramifications—tracing and following them to their Headquarters in a
certain underground office at the Wilhelmstrasse! But they fail in one
thing.  The kind of operations they contemplate can usually be deduced
from the line of their reconnaissance!"

"And yet in the instance under consideration," hinted the Minister,
"Count von Herrnung’s intention of commandeering a machine from the
Hendon Flying Ground seems to have been fairly well disguised!"

"Pardon me!" opposed Sir Roland, with quiet assurance. "He had no such
intention when he arrived at Hendon. His orders were conveyed to him on
the ground!  And the haste with which he was got out of England with the
brown satchel proves that his superiors did not dare to delay even for
the precautionary measures, and that no copies nor photographs have been
made of the Foulis MSS. and plans! Take it from me that the cat, if she
has not already got to Germany, remains in the brown bag!"

"And the bag is somewhere in the North Sea.  But it may be recovered,"
said the Minister, "with the body of von Herrnung."

The General returned, with a deepening of the lines upon his forehead,
and at the angles of his mobile nostrils:

"It may be recovered, as you say.  But _if_ so, it will be found upon
the body of the boy."  He added, meeting the question in the tired eyes
of the other man: "Some objection was made by Mr. Sherbrand—the owner of
the now wrecked aëroplane—to von Herrnung’s taking the satchel with him
in the pilot’s pit.  So—Mr. Sherbrand informs me—von Herrnung strapped
it to the safety-belt that secured Saxham in his seat."

A gleam of interest warmed the frostiness of the Ministerial

"The boy ... Ah! yes, as I think I mentioned before, I sympathise deeply
with the boy’s parents.  He is a son of a personal friend of your own, I

"Dr. Saxham, sir, late attached to the Medical Staff at Gueldersdorp."

"Saxham—that is the name—and the child is the only one?  Most sad and
regrettable.  And I think the paragraph in the _Wire_ mentioned—one of
your Boy Scouts?"

"One of my Scouts!"  The Chief’s bright eyes snapped as he added, "Very
much to the honour of his troop.  Very greatly to the credit of the
Organisation—as I mean to prove to him should he happily survive to

"Indeed?  You interest me!  Pray tell the story."

It was told, succinctly and crisply.  He said quite warmly:

"I could hardly have credited!  What pluck and energy! And to dare the
thing—on the strength of a second flight! A boy like that should have
lived!  Good-bye, my dear General!"

He added, accompanying the visitor to his door:

"These are pleasant summer evenings to be wasted in London!  A shower or
so—and one could do a great deal of execution with the White Coachman on
our Hampshire trout-rivers, sir!"

He spoke like an angler mildly peeved by deprivation of the sport he
loved best, and even paused to tap the glass of a barometer hanging by
the wainscot, on his way back to the writing-table littered with State
papers, in defiance of the thin, shrill summons of the

So the General went away, owning to himself that the thing looked
desperate.  It was better for England that the Plans of the Foulis War
Engine should lie at the bottom of the North Sea, but what of his
friend, what of his friend’s wife?

The keen eyes were unwontedly dim as he reached the wide Turkey-carpeted
landing, and the messenger caught a snatch of _The Flowers o’ the
Forest_ whistled in slow time as his hurrying footsteps overtook the
General.  Would Sir Roland please to go back, was the gist of the
message.  The Minister had something further to communicate.

The War Minister was not alone.  Two persons were with him—a tall man in
civilian clothes who stood looking out of the window as one who had
temporarily removed himself out of earshot, the other a slim and dapper
Naval Secretary.

The "something further" proved to be the pith of an Admiralty
communication just imparted.  Early that morning a British Submarine on
North Sea Patrol duty (we will call her E-131), upon returning to the
surface to ascertain the cause of defective submergence, had discovered
a brown leather lock-strap to be entangled with her aft diving-plane on
the starboard side.  A leather satchel firmly attached to the other end
of the strap was jammed under the plane, and subsequently extricated by
one of the men, from the collapsible.

Perhaps you can imagine the Lieutenant Commander stooping over the
retrieved bit of flotsam, lying under the shaded electric light hanging
over the narrow sliding table that pulled out from under his bunk in the
officer’s cabin—a place of privacy again, the steel bulkhead-doors being
shut. For when you submerge they are all thrown wide so that the
Commander’s eye may traverse the whole length of an elongated
engine-room, and see what every man is doing at his particular post, in
a single flash.

The Commander’s eye was screwed up in the vain endeavour to see under
the flap of the locked satchel.  He took up the thing and turned it in
his hands, while the strap, soaked and twisted by sea-water and
engine-power, flapped upon his knees like a long frond of wet seaweed.

"Wonder who cut the strap?"  Clumsily, as though by a blunt knife
wielded by a numb hand—it had been hacked through, and the satchel
scratched badly in the process. He went on: "Looks like some rich
American globe-trotter’s travelling-satchel.  No picking these locks!
One might negotiate ’em with the oxygen flame-puff—if it wasn’t for the
risk of damaging the wads of dollar bills that might possibly be inside.
Nothing to be done but rip or cut the leather—and that seems to be made
strengthy with metal, somehow!"  He slipped the lean blade of a penknife
between the strongly stitched edges.  The satchel proved to be lined
with thin plates of aluminium.  "As easy to get inside as the Bank of
England!" he grumbled, and so it proved, if the Bank of England has ever
been negotiated with a bull-head tin-opener.

Inside the leather case lined with aluminium, a little sea-water had
penetrated, patching with damp a small antique portfolio of pearly,
bossy shark-skin exquisitely painted with birds and foliage by some
old-world Japanese master of Art. The quaintly feeble lock, and
corner-guards were of bronze, gold-inlaid with scowling fox-masks, and
the inevitable chrysanthemum.

The Japanese lock gave at a twist of the penknife-blade and then the
portfolio disgorged its loose sheaf of yellowed papers strung together
by a clew of faded silken twist. Drawings to scale and plans: sheets of
manuscript and pages covered with the symbols used in chemical formulas,
scribed in a clear small rounded hand.

"Great Scott!—what’s this?"

The ash from the Commander’s neglected cigarette fell upon the topside
of the precious manuscript.  He blew it reverently off, and dug himself
into the pile:

"H’m, hum!"

"_By Me, Robert Foulis, Seaman, Tenth Earl of Clanronald, G.C.B.,
Admiral of the Red, Rear-Admiral of the British Fleet, and Marquis of
Araman, etc., etc.  Invented & Conceived Not in Hatred of Mankind, but
in Defence of my Country and the Rights Beloved by Every True Briton——_"

"Marvellous old cock!  And in 1854, when he was eighty if a day, he
offers it for the fifth time to the British Government!"

"Busy, Owner?  See you’ve got inside the prize-packet! My Christmas!
what is it?  Miss Araminta’s Diary; ’FOUND AFTER FORTY YEARS!’ or ’HOW I

This from a young, exceedingly wet, and dirty Engineer Lieutenant, fresh
from an interview with the damaged diving-plane, and smelling potently
of castor-oil.

The Commander looked up, and strange things were in his eyes.

"You’re pretty wide!"  He added, speaking partly to the other man inside
the Commander: "Jolly good thing we’re on the Home trip.  That main
motor gives a lot o’ trouble, and—suppose some purblind sailing ship
crashed into us—and sent us to the bottom with THIS aboard.  Great Sea
Boots!  It makes me crawl all down my back to think of it!"

The Second clattered down the steel ladder and filled the doorway with
his burly personality.

"What makes you crawl?  Don’t say the leg o’ mutton we bought Saturday
from the skipper of that Grimsby trawler has gone back on us!  Is that
what the liar means by fresh meat?"

"If I told you, you’d crawl too.  Or you’d think it a case of
sunstroke—or D.T. of the deferred kind."  The Commander stowed the
papers back in the sharkskin case with gingerly carefulness that
provoked the query whether he thought he had got hold of a new kind of
floating mine, and elicited the retort:

"I don’t think!—I know it!"

No one got anything more out of the speaker, who, presently, declining
stewed mutton, whose wholesome savour amply certified to the moral
character of the trawler’s skipper, went to the Wireless and dispatched
a pithy message to the Commander of E-131’s particular Coast Defence
station, and the news was flashed to Whitehall, to go forth ere long
from thence over the world.

Sir Roland said, with that unwonted cloud dulling his bright eyes, and a
certain huskiness of utterance:

"There’s no other solution of the puzzle.  Remembering that I had said
to him, ’_In an emergency, you might do good service to your country by
destroying this!_’ my Scout took the only course open to him—and dumped
the satchel into the sea!"

The Minister admitted with characteristic reticence:

"Whether I concur with your theory or not, I must admit to you that the
report received specifies that the strap had been cut.  ’Hacked through’
is the actual expression—and the back of the leather outer case
scratched as though by a knife."

"It is vital that I should examine the strap and see those scratches!"

The Minister answered:

"To-morrow morning by twelve o’clock—I can obtain you an opportunity.
The recovered valise, or wallet, or satchel, will be brought up to the
Admiralty by the officer commanding E-131.  She has not yet arrived in
harbour. But the Commander will doubtless receive instructions as soon
as he reports himself."  He continued, gracefully ignoring his previous
statement that the Government had decided not to interfere: "In the
absence of the Earl of Clanronald, now yachting in Northern waters, it
is obligatory that the War Office should take the matter in hand."

The very tall stranger had wheeled, and advanced to Sir Roland with a
smile and an outstretched hand of greeting. We know how great a heart
beat in its pulses.  Its short, hard grip spoke sympathy and
understanding, though the voice was harsh and the light grey eyes stared
out of the brick-burned, heavily-moustached face with the old sagacious,
indomitable regard.  He said after a word or two had passed, the
Admiralty Secretary temporarily occupying the attention of the War

"By the way, you will be interested to hear something I have at
first-hand from Clanronald.  He has been, as perhaps you know, cruising
with two ancient cronies, Lord Gaynor and Colonel Kaye, in his
steam-yacht _Helga_, along the Danish West Coast of Jutland.  He returns
the richer by—what I may term a unique experience!"

Sir Roland said, meeting the Sirdar’s eyes with great certainty:

"If I may guess at the nature of the experience, I should hazard that it
was—an attempt in the kidnapping line?"

The other gave his short, gruff laugh:

"You have hit it.  They carry a Wireless installation on the _Helga_,
and sparked the story _via_ Cullercoats to Bredingley, who was stopping
a week-end at Doome.  The yacht was at anchorage in the outer harbour of
Esbjorg, some twenty-eight kilometres from the frontier of
Danish-Germany.  It was midnight.  Everybody on board, including the
watch, seems to have been asleep except Clanronald, who was roused by
something scraping the side of the yacht.  Presently he heard stealthy
footsteps on deck, and whispering.  He was squatting on his bunk with a
brace of loaded revolvers and a Winchester repeating-rifle, when the
intruders opened his cabin door!"

"Did any of them survive the intrusion?  If so, Clanronald has—very much

The Sirdar returned, with the quirk of a smile lurking under the heavy
moustache whose brown was getting flecked with grey:

"Well—the _Helga_ has recently been re-enamelled, and Clanronald is
faddy on the point of his new paint.  Besides"—the quirk deepened into a
laugh—"he thought it would be more useful to take them as live specimens
of the kind of material that goes to make up the crew of a German

They looked at each other, laughing.  Sir Roland inquired:

"I venture to hope that while Clanronald was about it—he collected the

"Unfortunately, no!  And, very regrettably, the collapsible boat in
which the raiders had made their midnight visit was swamped when the two
others—there had been four of them!—jumped into her to make off.
Presumably they could swim and were picked up by the submarine—Undersea
Boat No. 14—according to the testimony of one of the prisoners.  The
other of whom—an officer and leader of the foray—took poison, and was
found dead in the cabin that served for his prison-cell.  The other, a
mere seaman, is too dazed with terror to be intelligible—according to
Clanronald.  But the whole thing is interesting!"

"Hugely and instructively.  As shedding," said the General, "a certain
light upon a mystery that baffled the wiseacres in 1913.  I refer to the
mysterious disappearance of the engineer-inventor Riesl from his cabin
aboard a Hamburg Line, Leith-bound steamer.  With a contract in his
pocket for the supply of crude-oil-consuming marine motor-engines to the
Navy of a Power—other than the German Government!"

"Possibly!—possibly!  One never knows what forces are working beneath
the surface."  The set, brick-dust face and grave sagacious eyes of the
great soldier seemed to testify to his complete innocence of anything
like a _double-entendre_.

He ended as the War Minister dismissed the secretary from the Admiralty,
and turned again to Sir Roland, saying in his most pompous tones:

"Twelve o’clock to-morrow, then, General.  Meanwhile, pray convey to his
parents my admiration—in which I feel the First Lord will concur—of the
remarkable qualities manifested by young Saxham!  Astonishing devotion
to duty, and courageous self-reliance!  He should have lived!—he would
have made a noble man!"

Came the curt reply:

"He is alive now!  I am convinced of it!"

The Minister gave the speaker a glance of incredulity. It was so very
clear to the War Secretary’s logical mind that the child and the man
were drowned.  But the harsh voice of the great Field Marshal, England’s
most faithful friend, who was to succeed him in his place of power,
answered for him:

"One would expect you to stick to your guns, General. Should you prove
right before I sail for Egypt, bring him to see me!"

"I promise that, faithfully, my lord."

They shook hands and parted.  It seemed a long week until the morrow
when the secret of Robert Foulis came home to roost at Whitehall.  But
it ended, and twelve o’clock brought that keenly-desired opportunity of
examining the cut lock-strap and the empty, knife-scored satchel in the
official sanctum of the First Lord Commissioner for the Admiralty, and
in the presence of that functionary.

"There seems—ah!" the First Lord mounted a pair of gold-rimmed
pince-nez, "to be something in the nature of an address scratched upon
the leather!"

Sir Roland corroborated, after a brief inspection:

"There is, most undoubtedly.  And the address is that of the London
Headquarters of our Organisation, No. 1000, Victoria Street."

"Dear me—dear me!  Most remarkable!  Now here," said the Right Hon.
gentleman, breathing asthmatically and twinkling through the gold-framed
pebbles, "is something not so easily deciphered.  A rude symbol,
something like a _fleur-de-lis_ with letters at either side, and a few
other meaningless scrawls!"

"It is not a _fleur-de-lis_," Sir Roland answered, "but a fox-mask, with
the number and signature of my Scout.  He belonged to the Fox Patrol,
331st London.  Here is his troop-number, 22, and here are his initials,
B.M.S.—Bawne Mildare Saxham.  It is perfectly in order!  In this way he
would be expected to sign a communication to his fellow-Scout.  And the
marks below, I can assure you, are not meaningless.  They convey that
there is trouble of a very definite kind.  In addition the arrow, here,
taking the top of the satchel for the North as in a map—signifies, ’Road
to be followed East.’"  He added with a stiffening of the facial muscles
that made the keen face as hard as a mask carved in boxwood:

"And followed it shall be!"

It had been decided amongst those who controlled such matters that the
British Public were to be fed with the tale. The tapes began to run out
at the newspaper-offices as the General took leave of the First Lord and
the War Minister and got into his waiting car, and sped away to Harley
Street to tell the Dop Doctor how the Saxham pup had proved worthy of
his breed.

The evening papers made great marvel out of the story, and at all the
street corners of London and the suburbs broadsheets lined the gutters,
proclaiming in huge inky capitals:


                             *CHAPTER XLVI*

                         *AT NORDEICH WIRELESS*

In the face of the outrunning tide, Undersea Boat No. 18 had nosed her
way from Norderney Gat to Nordeich, by the deep-dredged low-water
channel of which Luttha had told. The boy had been roused by the kick of
a foot shod with a heelless rubber boot, out of a dog-sleep on the
vibrating deckplates of the men’s cabin, under the white glare of the
electric globes.  The man who kicked him hauled away the blue blanket,
and pitched him his clothes, yet moist and heavy with sea-water,
ordering him in broken English to get into them quickly to go ashore.

The boy obeyed, stiffly, for he yet ached in every limb from the
resuscitative rubbing administered by Petty Officer Stoll and his
assistant—and his temples throbbed, and there was a singing in his ears.
Perhaps that was from the smell of the petrol!  One breathed
petrol—devoured tinned meat stew petrol-flavoured, and drank soup and
coffee made with petrol—judging by the tang upon the palate—on board the
German submarine.

The hatch at the top of the dripping steel ladder was open, letting in
the smell of the sea tanged with the odours of fish and rotten seaweed
and sewage.  One emerged through the manhole into a strange, windless
woolly world. Through a weeping woolly-grey mist, grey, greasy-looking
water lapped and licked against a weedy jetty of grey stone alongside
which U-18 lay with the fog smoking off her whitey grey painted steel
skin.  A bluff-bowed galliot, a yacht or two, and some lighters laden
with bricks and cement sat on the blue-grey mud of a small harbour; grey
and white seagulls were feeding on the mud, gaily-painted row-boats were
lying on the shelving beach of weedy sand.

To the right-hand a lighthouse or beacon made a yellow blur in the
prevailing woolliness.  Behind one, the foggy land seemed mixed up with
the foggy sea, even as the yellow-white curd mixes with the whey in a
dish of rennet. North, the intermittent beam thrown from a lighthouse
came and went in sudden winks.  Facing to the mainland again, one made
out east of the quay an aggregation of tiled roofs and chimneys, and a
wooden church-spire with a quaint gilded weathercock.  Running south
were black and white signal-posts, buffers, and a big, barn-like railway
station.  Beyond, the fog came down so like a curtain, that the shining
metals of the permanent way ran into it and ended as sharply as though
they had been cut off.

There was a trampling of feet on the steel ladder.  Heads showed through
the manhole, and a rough hand caught the boy by the collar of his
pneumatic jacket and jerked him out of his betters’ way.  Luttha
appeared in his panoply of yellow oilskins, passed aft and went up on
the platform, where his second officer and another stood together at the
rail.  Von Herrnung followed, dough-pale, and wearing an old Navy cap in
place of his goggled helmet, and a junior officer came after.  They
brought the tang of schnapps with the smell of their oilskin coats.  The
boy had seen them drinking and nodding to each other at the narrow table
in the officer’s cabin, as he had hurried into his clothes.

"_Gute Reise!  Viel Glück!_" Luttha had shouted to von Herrnung, and
waved his hand with a heartiness that did not seem quite real.

"_Auf wiedersehen, besten Dank!_" von Herrnung had called back to the
Commander, and set his foot upon the one-rail gang-plank by which a
seaman had connected the submarine with the quay.  And then he had drawn
it back, as though the salty plank had burned him.  For a party of tall
grey soldiers with brown boots and belts, and spiked helmets covered
with grey stuff like their clothing, came tramping along the quay with
bayonets fixed, and halted at a harsh order from their officer—and von
Herrnung, with a shiny grey face, and grey lips under his red moustache,
had croaked out meaningly to Luttha:

"My thanks for this, Herr Commander!  We will settle the score one day!"

He went on then, and the officer arrested him.  And while Bawne stood
staring, taking in the scene, another brutal hand had grabbed him by the
scruff—lifted him as a boy lifts a puppy—and slung him on to the stones
of the quay.

"You come with us!"  Somebody spoke to him in English.  It was von
Herrnung, and his eyes were poisonous with hate.  "You bear your share
in this, Her Dearest."  This was a curious nickname by which the Enemy
was often to address Bawne.  "Where I go you will go also!—do you

The officer said something harshly, making an imperious gesture with his
drawn sword, and von Herrnung saluted and fell silently into place
between the grey files.  Then the party marched along the quay between
rows of storehouses with doors painted in broad horizontal stripes of
black and white, and passed through a yard and a big open gate at the
end of it, with a black and white sentry-box, and a grey-uniformed
spike-helmeted sentry on duty outside the gate.  The sentry presented
arms, and the party swung through, and struck into a wide main-road that
crossed the railhead, a sandy road with a dyke at either side of it,
that followed the curve of the shore-line east.

Beyond the shore-line the North Sea fog came down, blank and drab as an
asbestos curtain, waiting a westerly breeze to roll inland and blot out
everything.  Between shore and road were the clumped houses of the
fishing-village, and a church with a wooden spire, shaped like an
old-fashioned needle-case.  Sand-dunes, covered with sea-holly and bent
grass, came up to the road.  But on the other side of the road, beyond
the dyke, the eye traversed a wide expanse of dead, flat fenland,
drained by a many branched creek.

Set in the midst of the fenland were buildings of some kind.  One
thought of barracks in the same enclosure with a martello tower or a
powder-magazine, like that in Hyde Park.  But two strange landmarks
sticking up into the foggy sky altered the character of the flat-roofed
structure of grey stone standing in a wide expanse of gravel enclosed by
a strong wooden fence, stained with some drab weather-resisting
composition, and entered by an imposing pair of spike-topped gates.  A
wide dyke full of sluggish water girdled the fence.  You crossed by a
wooden swing-bridge leading to the big gates.  When you approached them
by the road that branched from the main-road at right-angles, you
realised the immense height of two hollow triangular towers of
grey-painted steel latts and girders that straddled over the flat roof
of the squat stone building—the shorter tower nosing up three hundred
feet into the air, and its big brother more than double that height,
sheathing its sharp point amongst the leaden-hued clouds, bellying full
of moisture sucked up from the North Sea.

They looked alive to Bawne in a queer ugly way, throwing out their
mile-long antennæ to the supporting poles, linking their metal guy-ropes
to solid structures of stone and concrete, like colossal web-spinning
insects, half-spider, half-mantis, wholly horrible.  And they reminded
him of the three tall Wireless masts rearing over the Admiralty at
Whitehall, and Marconi House, in the Strand, and the little one that
straddled over the telegraph-cabin on Fanshaw’s Flying Ground.  And at
the remembrance the salt tears overbrimmed his raw and burning eyelids,
blotting out the muscular, vigorous backs of the men who walked in front
of him, and his throat felt as choky as though he had swallowed a whole

There was a sharp order to halt, and boots marked time on sandy gravel.
A grey-uniformed soldier of the two on guard outside the big
spike-topped gates, flanked with a black-and-white sentry-box on either
side, brought his bayonet to the slope and challenged sharply.  A
sergeant-major of the party stepped out and answered; the sentry


And with the ruffle of a side-drum, the gates swung open, the guard
turned out of a stone guardhouse within, and the armed party with the
prisoner and the boy marched into the gravelled courtyard.  The gates
shut, and von Herrnung was taken off to a block of buildings distant
from the central erection with the Wireless towers.  There was a clock
over the doorway of the guardhouse.  The hands indicated a quarter to

Bawne, standing shivering in the morning rawness, heard the infantry
officer commanding the party say in a loud, harsh voice that the boy was
to be kept close and sharply looked after.  Then a heavy hand gripped
him roughly by the collar, and the voice belonging to the grip shouted:

"At the Herr Lieutenant’s orders!"

Whereupon the boy was summarily thrust before the gruff-voiced speaker
to a shed behind the guardhouse—a shed whose planks were a-tremble at
all their lower edges with glittering drops of North Sea fog.  He was
helped in with a kick, scientifically administered—the big key crashed
in the lock—and one was free to sob one’s bursting heart out, lying face
downwards among the hard, clean, shining straw-trusses that covered the
floor of beaten earth.  Somehow the tears relieved, and merciful sleep
came to the child, and presently he awakened under the oilskin coat that
served for bed-covering, to the rustling of the straw under his head,
and through one unglazed aperture that admitted light and air, shone a
large, lucent moon—in her last quarter, with Saturn, blazing like a
great blue diamond, at her pale and silvery side.

In the shed, which had been destined but luckily not used as a kennel
for the Adjutant’s Pomeranian boar-hound, the boy remained in durance
vile for a period of several days. The drills and parades, the buglings
and drummings that marked the ordinary course of garrison life, alone
enlivened the cramped monotony.  He was given coarse food and drink
three times a day, and permitted to exercise for half-an-hour in charge
of a corporal within the limits of the gravelled courtyard.  Soldiers
were drilling there on most of these occasions, big men in the brand-new
green-grey uniform that seemed a kind of Service kit, and who regarded
Bawne with looks of quite incomprehensible malignancy, and when their
mouths were not closed by Prussian military discipline, made coarse or
beastly jokes at his expense.

You are to suppose a pitifully unequal struggle on the part of the boy
to maintain decency, cleanliness, and self-respect under these
conditions, which would have ended in hopeless lethargy had the Saxham
pup sprung from a feebler race. Two things helped him at this juncture.
The Rosary he said in his straw lair at night, and certain stimulating
reading contained in a sea-stained and grimy-paged Scout’s Notebook,
that nobody had seen him with, or having seen had thought it worth their
while to take away.  You can see him on the sixth morning of captivity
squatting on his straw, poring over the Alphabet of the Morse Signalling
Code, the Rules for First Aid, and so on, following the ten precepts of
Scout Law.

"_Rule No. 7_.  A Scout obeys orders of his patrol-leader or
scout-master without question."

He nodded his head as he read the words and his heavy eyes brightened.
He pushed back the dulled and rumpled hair from his forehead and
straightened his hunched back.

"_Rule No. 8_.  A Scout smiles and whistles under all difficulties...."

The smile was bravely forced.  He held up his head, filled his lungs
with air, inflated his chest, pouted his lips, and began to whistle
_Rule Britannia_.  And at the second bar, somebody booted the door
heavily and a thick voice bellowed:

"_Halt den Mund!_"

It was the voice of the soldier who was Bawne’s jailor, and the whistle
quavered and broke down.  And as the boyish heart swelled to bursting
and the irrepressible tears brimmed over, a musical motor-horn, some
distance off, sounded clearly and sweetly:

"Ta-rara-ta ra!"  And a Prussian officer’s voice drowned out the
sweetness of the answering echo, shouting:

"_Achtung!  Wache heraus!_"

Bugles sounded, side-drums beat, there was a crunching of heavy boots
upon stone and gravel, followed by the click of presented arms, and the
groaning of the heavy gates swung back.  Amidst all these significant
noises, you caught the purr and crackle of pneumatic tyres rolling over
the wooden bridge into the courtyard.  As they stopped short, a bugle
sounded imperatively, and hoarse voices gave the order:

"_Helm ab!_"

And a multitudinous shout answered—a thick, short, crashing utterance
that suggested the fall of a tree.  Three trees fell crashing, and then
in a little still of awe a sharp, hollow voice answered:

"_Danke, meine Kinden!_"

And the boy squatting, listening in the straw, was conscious of a queer
tingling sensation that made his hair stiffen on his scalp and sent odd
little waves of shuddering down the whole length of his spine.  The
voice was not melodious or powerful.  But it set the nerves on edge, and
made you wonder what he could be like—the man to whom it belonged. And
the question made a picture in the mind, of a mouth with thin lips that
were parched and discoloured, a cruel mouth, matching the harsh and
hollow utterance.

The time crawled on and the sun climbed high.  It must have been noon or
nearly when measured steps approached the shed, and the door was
unlocked.  This time a non-commissioned officer who had kicked Bawne
yesterday caught hold of the boy, hauled him out of the shed, and made
at the double towards the squat stone building bestridden by the pair of
Wireless towers.  Their intolerable shadows, the sun being nearly
overhead, barred the big courtyard with wide lateral and diagonal bands
and stripes of blackness.  It was as though two Brobdingnagian spiders
had spun there a pair of webs of incredible size.

There were soldiers on guard with fixed bayonets at the open doors, that
led into the square low-ceiled stone vestibule.  Before the two wide
steps stood a bright yellow motor-car.  It was big, roomy, and
luxurious, with the Prussian eagle in black and red on both doors.  A
young officer in field-grey and flat cap sat immovable at the
steering-wheel.  At a little distance waited two other cars. Their
chauffeurs wore a dark blue livery with silver braid and buttons, and
these cars were black-enamelled and studiously plain.

Inside the vestibule were more sentries and a small body of soldiers,
all with fixed bayonets.  Also three dubious individuals in black
uniform who might have been detectives or not.  They were grouped
outside a heavy door on the right hand as you entered.  Despite the
presence of so many persons a singular quiet reigned.  Footfalls made no
noise on the floor, presumably of stone, covered with thick, resilient
red rubber.  There were no windows, light being admitted from overhead
by a skylight of thick opaline glass.

I have said that quiet reigned, but as the corollary of a sharp harsh
voice that talked without cessation.  It upbraided, denounced,
interrogated; interrupted conjectural answers with contradiction; burst
out anew into shrill denunciation, and switched off the current of abuse
to pelt its object with questions again.  It rasped the nerves. Of the
men who heard it some grew pale, others were red and sweated freely.
When it broke off in a scream like a vicious stallion’s neigh, a
susurration of horror passed from one to another of the erect, silent,
and rigid men waiting in the vestibule.  The neighing scream was
followed by a small commotion.  The door opened, and a tall,
grey-moustached, grey-cloaked cavalry officer, in a silver helmet
crested with a perching eagle, demanded—Bawne’s little German serving
him once more at this juncture:

"Water!  Immediately—a glass of water!" and vanished again.

An orderly got the water, passing out by another tall door in the centre
of the vestibule and coming back with a filled tumbler on a china plate.
One of the men in black snatched it from him and knocked officiously.
But the harsh shrill voice had begun to rate again, and when the door
was opened, a thick-set officer in a spiked infantry helmet, with a
glittering gold moustache and sharp blue eyes twinkling through
glittering gold pince-nez, waved the water away as though it had never
been asked for.

"The boy!" he said, in a shrill falsetto whisper.  "_Seine Majestät_
wants the boy!"

Then it seemed as though twenty zealous hands propelled the boy towards
the mysterious room’s threshold.  The officer in pince-nez grabbed his
arm and pulled him briskly in.

                            *CHAPTER XLVII*

                         *THE MAN OF "THE DAY"*

You were in a square, singularly light, though windowless room
immediately underneath the lower, pointed end of the biggest Wireless.
The room was lighted along the top of the walls on two sides by oblong
slabs of thick opaque glass with many ventilators controlled by levers.
The huge metal ribs and supports of the colossal steel tower overhead
were built deep into the solid stone masonry.  Through a massive block
of crystal glass—the insulator on which the pointed end of the mast
rested, your vision was snatched up—up dizzily—through the vertical
labyrinth of metal ribs and girders, until it ended at the inner
extremity of the apex, seven hundred and fifty feet above.  The shrill
song of the wind amongst the steel ribs, and spars, and guy-ropes, whose
ends were linked to reinforced steel beams or ground-anchors, sunk in
heavy outside foundations of masonry, hardly reached one here.  But from
the dynamo-room that absorbed the space between this and the second
Wireless chamber, you heard the deep moan of the Goldberg Alternator,
its rotor speed maintained by a 500 horse-power Krafit engine, sunk, to
lessen the tremendous vibration, in a solid steel and cement lined
power-house, deep below the level of the soggy ground.

The boy’s wide blue eyes took in the wonder and the strangeness of his
surroundings.  Lightness and whiteness, a ship-shape neatness, a
scrupulous freedom from dust, a dazzling polish and burnish on surfaces
or knobs or handles of wood, brass, or copper, characterised the place.
About the walls were metal cylinders with pipes and induction-coils,
frames supporting reels of wire in rows, and brass things like pincers
in rows above them; and above these, rows of shining crystal bull’s-eyes
like port-lights, and yet others with stars and circles of electric

At the distant end of the long, light, shining room, the deck-like run
of the polished boards was broken by a step leading to a platform where
the rigidly-erect figures of three men in dark blue uniform sat at the
middle, and at either end of a long narrow table burdened with
instruments whose use Bawne partly knew.  The midmost operator, sitting
with his back to you, wore a head-band with receiver ear-pieces, beyond
which his ears, large, thick, and red as quarter-pounds of beefsteak,
projected in a singularly grotesque way.  The man seated on the right of
the table had a paper-pad and pencil, and the man on the left sat in
front of a typewriter, with lowered intent eyes and fingers crooked
above the keys, as one waiting to type off a Wireless message, and the
tingling desire to approach and see the apparatus more closely evoked a
wiggle on the part of the boy that was grimly checked by a big hard hand
that gripped his arm.  This reminded him that he was a prisoner.  Like
von Herrnung, Bawne thought and—then upon his right he became aware of
von Herrnung, green as a drowned man—and with all the stiffening gone
out of him—wilting over the supporting arms of two officers of the
garrison.  And then a voice said something shrilly and harshly—and
Saxham’s son found himself looking into a pair of steel-blue, shining,
flickering eyes, with whites curiously veined with red.

The man to whom the eyes belonged sat immediately facing you, on the
opposite side of a big kneehole writing-table with rows of drawers in
its pedestals, and official-looking ledgers upon it, also files of
papers, dispatch-cases, three big inkstands, and the shining metal
pillar of a telephone transmitter, the base of which the officer gripped
with his right hand as he leaned forwards, sharply scrutinising you.
The hand was large and muscular, with short, thick, crooked fingers,
covered with jewelled rings that sparkled in the sun.

Half a dozen other officers stood at some little distance behind the
seated personage....  Five out of the six wore the Service dress of
grey-green serge, with spiked helmets covered with the same material.
Badges, buckles, chain-straps, and the hilts of swords curved or
straight were dulled to rigorous uniformity, and belts, gloves, and
boots were of earth, not tan-coloured, brown.  Thus much Bawne grasped,
but of these individualities, save one, he got no clear impression.  You
were obliged to look at, and think of, the man sitting in the chair.

Those strange eyes stung as they fastened on you and sucked at you,
somehow making you think of a tiger lurking in a cave of ice.  They were
shadowed by the peak of a grey-green field-cap, with an edge of vivid
crimson showing above its deep band of silver lace, oakleaf and
acorn-patterned. He wore a loose grey overcoat with silver buttons,
thrown open to reveal a grey-green single-breasted Service jacket with a
turn-down collar edged with silver lace and faced with crimson, and a
glittering decoration dangling below the hook.  But as he was of the
short-necked, fleshy type of man, and kept his head well down and thrust
forward, staring you out of countenance over a grizzled moustache with
upright, bushy ends—and all the light in the room came from overhead,
the decoration was obscured by the shadow of his chin.  A sharp chin,
meagrely modelled, with a cleft in the middle, suggesting petulance and
vanity. The chin of a mediocre actor of romantic parts.

"So you are the boy?"

The tobacco-stained teeth in the mouth under the dyed moustache were
filled and patched with gold that glittered when he spoke to you.  There
was a flash of yellow metal now as he added:

"You do not answer, no?  Come nearer, boy!"

His legs, short, thick legs in grey riding-breeches and brown boots with
beautiful spurs of gold and steel, stuck out towards you under the
table.  As you stepped out briskly to lessen the distance between you,
he pulled the legs back sharply, and a handsome, dark young officer,
standing on his right, put out a brown-gloved hand warningly, as though
the border of the big Turkey rug on which stood the kneehole
writing-table were a frontier-line that must not be crossed.

As he did this, the seated man glanced round at him, nodding approval,
and the pale, jagged seam of a scar on his left cheek showed plainly
against the dark, harsh, fever-dry skin.  With the slewing of his head
the decoration hanging by a swivel at the collar of his single-breasted
Service jacket flashed into the light.  Bawne saw a large Maltese Cross
eight-pointed and blue-enamelled, having a black eagle, with outspread
wings, between each arm. Crossed swords in diamonds were above,
surmounted by a diamond Crown Imperial.  And a black and white ribbon
supported another Cross of plain black edged with silver, at a
buttonhole of the Norfolk-cut jacket of grey-green. Possibly the boy had
guessed in whose presence he stood, even before the young officer, at an
impatient signal from his master, said in excellent English:

"I am commanded to tell you that you are in the presence of the Emperor
of Germany."

                            *CHAPTER XLVIII*

                          *PATRINE IS ENGAGED*

"Don’t tell me—not that you ever have—that there ain’t such a thing as
Providence!"  Thus Franky, after lunch upon the fateful Third of August,
from the hearthrug of the drawing room at 00, Cadogan Place.  "When," he
went on, "just as I’m on the point of sendin’ in my papers to please
you—good old England kerwumps into War!"

He continued, as Margot shrugged her small shoulders:

"All right, best child!  Bet you twenty to one in gloves it comes
off!—as sure as the Austrian monitors were shellin’ Belgrade, and the
British Cabinet were sittin’ on Sunday, and the weekly rags selling like
hot cakes, when you and me and the rest of the congregation were slowly
oozin’ out of Church.  Why, the Kaiser and the Tsar have been at
loggerheads since Saturday.  German troops are swampin’ Luxembourg, and
the next move will be the Invasion of France.  There We come in—and the
rest of the big European Powers!  Like a row of beehives kicked
over!—all the swarms mixed and stingin’, and Kittums’ little Franky in
the middle of the scrum!"

"Why are you so—frightfully keen about it?"

Margot’s great dark deer-eyes were vaguely troubled. She got up from her
writing-table, a lovely thing in Russian tulip-tree, the shelf of which
was graced by a row of mascots: Ti-Ti and the jade tree-frog, Jollikins,
Gojo, and half a dozen more.

"Best child, I’m not keen!" asserted Franky.  "But I’m pattin’ myself on
the back—gloatin’ over the knowledge that I’m not a bally Has Been—but a
real live soldier—just when I’m likely to be wanted to be one!  Switch

He added, as Margot shook her head: "My grammar’s a bit off, but I know
what I mean if I can’t express it.  Here’s a telegraph-kid on a red
spider.  Two to one in cough-drops that yellow screed’s for me!  Callin’
me to Headquarters just as I’d got into my civvy rags to spend the
afternoon with my wife!"

The prophecy proved correct.  Franky vanished upstairs to peel, plunge
into his Guards’ uniform, and whirl away, borne by a taxi, into the dim
conjectural regions known as Headquarters.

Margot went back to her desk to re-read a type-written letter from the
Secretary of the Krauss and Wolfenbuchel Fraüenklinik at Berlin,
counselling the honoured English lady whose introduction, supplied by a
former lady-client, was specially satisfactory!—to secure a room at the
Institute, by the payment of a moiety of the fee in advance. The crowd
of applicants desirous to subject themselves to the wonderful "Purple
Dreams" treatment, was so large, the accommodation, by comparison, so
restricted, that to follow this course would be the only wise plan.
Similar treatment could be obtained in Paris and Brussels, but to ensure
success beyond doubt it was wisest to seek it at the German
fountainhead.  One hundred guineas would secure admission to the Berlin
Fraüenklinik.  By cheque made payable to the British Agent of Professors
Krauss and Wolfenbuchel, Mr. Otto Busch, 000, Cornhill, London, E.C.  It
would be advisable were the English client to follow her remittance,
taking up residence in Berlin within the next few days.  Travelling
might not be so easy in October, mildly hinted the Secretary of the

Why, bosh! what utter piffle!  Good old England wasn’t going to toddle
into any European War in a hurry, decided Margot.  She had had enough
bother over the South African biz.  Perhaps if Germany was having a rag
with Russia, and a tiny bit of a scrap with France, one would have to
get a passport, and travel by a different route to Berlin.  Perhaps the
best thing would be to go now—and stick the boredom of a three months’
residence in the Kaiser’s capital!  Why not?  Under the existing
circumstances, one would be bored anywhere.

She drew the cheque, and enclosed it to Mr. Busch’s address, and wrote a
little letter in a huge hand to the Secretary, saying that she had done
this and was obliged by his advice.  Then she ’phoned to the Club to ask
Patrine to come round to tea at 00, Cadogan Place.  Miss Saxham was not
there, according to the hall-porter, but might be found at AA, Harley
Street.  There Margot ran her to earth.  Yes, Pat would come with
pleasure! but upon condition that Lady Norwater was alone.

"Of course!" Margot remembered.  "She’s in mourning for the pretty
kiddy-cousin!  I must be getting stupid, or I’d have thought of that!"

But when the tall figure passed under the Persian portière of the
Cadogan Place drawing-room, it was arrayed in a revealing gown of pale
rose lisse with the well-known stole of black feathers and a
tall-crowned hat of golden braiding topped the Nile sunrise hair.

"Why, I thought—" Margot began:

"I know!  Do you think it horribly unfeeling?"  The speaker stooped to
kiss the soft cheek of the little creature curled up in the corner of a
favourite sofa in a favourite attitude which conveyed an impression of
Margot’s having no feet.  Patrine did not look at all horrid or
unfeeling as she said, winking back the tears that had overbrimmed her
underlids, "My heart is in crape if my body isn’t!"

"I know!" Margot’s lovely eyes looked sympathy. "I remember how fond
you’ve always been of the little cousin."

"Uncle Owen and Lynette won’t believe that the darling’s drowned,"
Patrine went on.  "But I can’t hope!  I’m not of the hoping kind!  When
I shut my eyes I seem to see Bawne fighting to keep afloat—then sinking.
It’s as though he called me, and—it’s horrible!"  She shuddered. "It’s

"And—Count von Herrnung?  The German Flying Man?"  Margot touched the
large white hand next her. "You know what a bad hand I am at saying
things that are consolatory and cosy.  Couldn’t rake up a single text
for my life—or if I did I’d quote ’em wrong end topside.  Like the
callow curate who assured the weeping widow that ’Heaven tempers the
wind to the lorn sham!’"

"I’ll let you off the texts, not being a weeping widow!"

But Patrine’s pale cheeks burned.  Margot pursued, not looking at them:

"Rhona Helvellyn told me there was nothing serious between you.  Indeed,
she said you rather hated him than otherwise.  But of course you’re
sorry he’s drowned, naturally!"

There was a silence.  Then:

"Yes," Patrine agreed, "I rather hated him than otherwise!"

"Ah!"  Margot’s little face was sage.  "It’s a pity you don’t care for
some nice man or other!"

"Isn’t it?"

"But you will one day.  It’s much nicer to live with your husband than
with your sister.  Though I never had a sister," added Margot.  Then her
mind, light and brilliant as a humming-bird, flitted to another subject.
"Rhona and her two Militants lunched with me on Sunday.  Awfully down on
their luck, all three.  The Grand Slam they’d planned—the
surprise-packet for the Mansion House Banquet had had the lid put on it
by the Police.  Fancy Scotland Yard finding out anything!  But it had,
for Rhona got a mysterious note warning her that she’d be dropped on
before she could open her head.  So—the Bishops toddled through their
speeches without being interrupted!  Sit down and light up.  These
Balkan Sobranies are tophole!"

"I can’t stay!"  But Patrine sat down on the sofa, dipped in the
ever-brimful silver box, and kindled a cigarette.

"Where’s His Nibs?" she asked.  For not even the chastening of
bereavement could cure Patrine of slanginess.

"Called to B.P.G. Headquarters suddenly."  Margot blew rings.  "Or doing
duty for some pal or other at the Tower.  Don’t bother about him!  Tell
me—why can’t you stay with me?"

"Aunt Lynette wants me, for one thing.  And——"

"And who for the other?"

"A man!"  Patrine sent a thin blue spiral of cigarette smoke twirling
upwards from her pursed lips.  Intently she watched it climbing and
spreading.  When it faded between her absorbed eyes and the Futurist
mouldings of the lapis lazuli-grounded ceiling whereon a silver comet
swung in a great elliptical orbit about a golden central Sun, she

"A man——"

"That makes two men!" said Margot shrewdly,

"No, only one.  A man I’m going to marry.  Rather soon, too," said
Patrine calmly, and put her cigarette into her mouth again.


Margot was staring at her blankly.

"Well, my dinkie?"

"Isn’t this frightfully previous?"

Patrine removed the cigarette to say:

"It depends on how you look at things."

"But—when did you meet?"

"In Paris."

"Do I know him?"

"No, luckily for me!"

Margot’s small, amazed face dimpled a little at the compliment.

"Is he nice?"

"I think so!"

"In Our Set?"

"I don’t think so!  He’s a Flying Man by profession. Now you know nearly
as much as I do," said Patrine. "And I’ve to be getting back to Harley
Street."  She rose from the sofa, towering over her small, indignant

"You’re not going out of this room until you tell me the rest of it!
What is his name, and when did—it—come off?"

"His name is Alan—and he only asked me on Wednesday, when he came to
Harley Street.  He has called every day since that horrible 18th of
July, but this time he came to bring"—Patrine choked a little—"Bawne’s
Scout staff and smasher.  They had been forgotten in the dressing-shed
at the Flying School.  Lynette was too ill to go down to receive them.
I had to instead—and the sight of them broke me up."


"And," Patrine went on, "he—Alan—was being sympathetic, when Uncle Owen
came in."

"My hat!"  Margot sat up, her small face alight and sparkling.  "The
Doctor-man with the chin and eyebrows! Did he give you unlimited wigging
or relent and bless you like the heavy uncle in a proper French Comedy?"

"He saw how things were between us.  He wasn’t astonished.  He was very
kind.  He is always kind!" said Patrine, swallowing.  "If I really
believed God were as good as Uncle Owen, I shouldn’t be afraid to die."

"He makes me feel like an earwig under a steam-roller," affirmed Margot.
"And the charming aunt.  Does she cotton to the engagement?"

"Lynette is not, for the present, to be told.  I asked that. It seems so
cruel to be happy when she is so broken-hearted."

"Umps!  Then—Irma and your gay and giddy mater? How do they take it?"

"They haven’t been asked to take it any way."

"Oh well!  Love is good while it lasts," Kittums said from the summit of
a pedestal of experience, "but if I could change back to Margot St. John

"You wouldn’t!"

"Wouldn’t I, that’s all!  This horror that November brings—that’s coming
every day closer! ... Pat—I haven’t told Franky yet, that’s to be got
over!  But I’ve definitely settled to go to that Institute in Berlin
where women can have babies without knowing anything about
it—under—Bother!  I never can remember the name of that drug!"

Patrine sat up.  Her face was curiously expressionless. She said,
crushing out the last spark of her cigarette-end against the face of a
Chinaman on the lacquer ash-tray that occupied a little stand beside the
sofa with the silver Sobranie box:

"You told me something—you showed me the pink book with the pretty
title, ’WEEP NO MORE MOTHERS’—wasn’t that the name?  You’ve made up your
mind?  Does it cost the earth?"

"Two hundred for patients of the superior class—_wohlgeboren_ clients.
Half paid in advance!  Stiff!—but to make sure of not suffering I’d
plank a thou’!  It’s a nightmare, and a Day-mare, that haunts me all the
clock round. That’s why I’d change—and be Margot St. John again! That’s
why I can’t whoop with joy when my friends tell me they’re going to be

Patrine got up.

"Oh!—well!  Perhaps I shall escape.  After all—it’s a lottery!"

"Not for big, splendid women like you.  You were made to be a mother,


She kissed Margot hastily and went to the door.

"Stop!"  Margot scrambled off the sofa.  "You’ve forgotten the most
important thing of all.  Hasn’t ’Alan’ got a surname by any chance?"

Patrine looked back over her shoulder with something of the old smile.

"Rather!  What do you think of Sherbrand?"

"What do I think of Sherbrand?  How odd!  It’s Franky’s family name!"

"Queer coincidence.  But _my_ Sherbrand hasn’t any relatives in the
Peerage!—or if he has, he hasn’t told me! I’ll butt you wise when I know
him well enough to ask him about them.  You see, the whole thing has
been beautifully sudden!"

"Bring him to lunch at the Club to-morrow.  You’re not in mourning, and
if you were it wouldn’t matter.  It’s simply a family affair, if he’s
really Franky’s cousin.  So, say yes."

"Very well, if he’ll come!"

                             *CHAPTER XLIX*

                         *THE WAR CLOUD BREAKS*

Patrine kissed her friend again, and went, leaving Kittums in a whirl of
astonishment.  To Franky, presently returning from the conjectural
region known as Headquarters she announced:

"Here’s something like news!  Pat Saxham—the girl with the Nile sunrise
hair that you don’t like!—is going to marry a Flying Man.  And his name
is—the same as yours!"

"By the Great Snipe! you don’t say so!"

Franky, slim and dapper in the scarlet Guards’ tunic and crimson sash,
divested himself of his sword, dropped his immaculate buckskin gloves
into his forage-cap, and sighed with undisguised relief as the attentive
Jobling, who had been hovering in the background, disappeared with these
articles.  Then he proceeded carefully to choose a cigarette from the
silver box of Sobranies, lighted it up, bundled Fits out of her master’s
corner of the sofa, and dropped into it with a sigh of relief.

"Sherbrand....  Must be the aviator-fellow we met in Paris.  The chap
whose hoverer was bein’ tested by the swells of the French S. Aë!  Saved
your life and snubbed me for askin’ him to dine with us!  Well, that’s
what I call a cannon off the cush for the Saxham girl!"  His dislike of
her betrayed itself in his tone.  "Must be the same man! supposin’ him
short of a father!  Hilton of Ours showed me an advertisement in the
B.M.D. column of _The Banner_ this afternoon briefly announcin’ my Uncle
Sherbrand’s death. Never read _The Banner_—that’s how I missed it.
Can’t say I feel much like puttin’ crape on my sleeve in any quantity,"
went on Franky.  "My Uncle Noel has been the Family Skeleton, poor old
chap! since that affair in 1900.  No doubt his son’s cut up—wouldn’t be
decent of him not to! But at any rate it brings him nearer these—"
Franky stuck out a beautifully-cut pair of red-striped auxiliaries
ending in dazzling patent-leather Number Eights, and craning over Fits,
who had jumped upon his knees, regarded them critically, ending after a
pause—"By one life out of the three that stand between.  Don’t be so
gushin’, old girl!"  The rebuke was for Fits, who had taken advantage of
her master’s attitude to lick him on the chin.

Margot crinkled her slender eyebrows and moved restlessly among her big
bright, muslin-covered cushions as she asked:

"Is this Volapuk or Esperanto?  For mercy’s sake don’t be obscure!  Why
is this Flying Sherbrand nearer your shoes by one life out of three?
What has he got to do with your shoes at all?"

"Don’t you switch on?"  He lifted his sleek brown head and turned his
neck in the setting of the gold-encrusted collar badged with the
Scottish Thistle, and stared at Margot with the brown eyes that had
seemed so beautiful under the awnings of the Nile _dahabeyah_, and were
only stupid now.

"Have you forgotten?  Don’t you twig, best child? Suppose—for the joke
of it—there’s War, and I get wiped out tryin’ to keep up the fightin’
traditions of my family and get a bit of gun-metal to hang on a ribbon
here."  He glanced down at the left breast of the red coat, guiltless of
anything in the decoration line.  "Then—unless the child"—his tone grew
gentle—"our kiddy that’s coming, happens to be a boy—my Cousin Sherbrand
steps into my billet. He’s the next heir to the Norwater Viscounty.
Look in Burke or Whittaker if you don’t believe me!  Get down, old lady,
you’re coverin’ me with white hairs!"  He bundled Fits off his knees,
got up and rang.  "A man ought to be here from Armer’s," he told the
servant who responded. "Armer and Co., Pall Mall, Military Tailors.
Send him up to my room and tell Jobling to help him with all those cases
and things.  No! don’t send Jobling!—send Dowd!"

The said Dowd being Franky’s soldier servant, between whom and the
civilian Jobling reigned a profound mutual contempt.

"What is Dowd going to do?"

"Oh! only goin’ to help overhaul my Service kit and so on," Franky
responded lightly.  "What with gettin’ leave and bein’ married I’ve
hardly sported kharks since last Autumn Slogs.  Wouldn’t do to find
myself too potty to get into the regulation tea-leaves in case my
country called."

"What rot! ..."

But Franky had swung out of the room and clattered upstairs with Fits
close upon his heels.  Fits, who, ordinarily unwilling to be out of
sight and sound of her master, now adhered to him like a leech, or his
shadow; whining and fidgeting in his absence, as though her feminine
mind were beset by haunting apprehensions of some sudden parting, or
impending loss....  Long afterwards Margot wondered: "If I had loved him
as Fits loves him—should I not also have felt that foreshadowing dread?"

But she was conscious only of her own physical discomfort and the
increasing weariness that movement brought her. Sharp discontent peaked
and pinched the tiny features. She caught a reflection of them in a
screen-mirror and shuddered.  With every day that dawned now, their
wild-rose prettiness faded.  By-and-by—

"If I were as good to look at as I used to be in June—or even a month
ago!" she wondered—"would _he_ leave me as he is leaving me to-night—to
go down to the House?  Don’t I know that the House means the Club, or
the music-hall, or a card-party!  Why do men get the best of everything
and never have to pay the bill?"

She dined in a tea-gown, and when Franky, still in that strange mood of
suppressed excitement, attired to four pins in the magpie evening garb
of civilized life, had kissed her and said: "So-long, Kittums, little
woman!  I’m going down to the Big Talk Shop for a bit.  Expect me back
on the doormat when the Mouthpieces of the Nation have done swoppin’ hot
air!" she tucked up her feet on the big sofa in her charming
drawing-room and read "WEEP NO MORE, MOTHERS," until the pink pamphlet
with the gilt sunrise stamped upon it grew heavy in the tiny hand. Then
she rang for Pauline and betook herself to bed.

The bedroom was blue-green as a starling’s egg, its painted walls
adorned with delicate lines of black and silver.  Perhaps you can see
Kittums, under her Brittany lace coverlet amongst the big frilled
pillows in one of the narrow black oak bedsteads standing side by side
on a carpet of deep rose.  A silver night-lamp burned under a dome of
sapphire glass on her night-table, and an electric clock noiselessly
marked the hours.  Lying thus, wrapped about with all the swaddlings of
Civilisation, this dainty daughter of the Twentieth Century strove in
blind revolt against Nature, the huge relentless Force that was slowly
grinding her down.  The ant that gets fed into the mill-hopper with the
grain might resent the millstone after the same fashion.  Ridiculous,
but infinitely pathetic, the tragedy of an infinitesimal thing.

What did Franky comprehend of her terrors, her forebodings?  Even
Saxham’s counsels were a man’s counsels, his advice a man’s advice.
"_Face your ordeal! do not flee it, lest you encounter something even
more terrible!_"  Not more terrible for oneself, mind you! but for that
unknown, conjectural being, referred to by Franky with such foolish

The child always!  Never Margot!  She set her little teeth, staring out
into the blue-green dusk from among her pillows.  What if it were to be
always so?  "My boy," "My son," for ever, instead of "My wife."

It was a breathless night.  A hush of suspense brooded over the huge,
hot city, such as prevails before the breaking of a storm.  Sentences
from the Secretary’s letter came back to her as she tossed under the
cool light coverings:

"_Wiser not to delay, lest travelling should become difficult. It will
be advisable indeed for the gracious lady to start as soon as may be.
English bank-notes are negotiable here to some extent.  A sum in gold is
most convenient to bring._"

Why hang back?  Why hesitate because one expected opposition from
Franky?  Why not slip off on the quiet without a hint to him?  What a
perfectly tophole idea! One could pack secretly, get funds from one’s
Bank, and skip with Pauline via Ostend to-morrow!  Berlin was a dull
place, but anyhow one had got to be dull for some months yet.  The thing
could be arranged while Franky was absent on duty at the Tower, or on
one of his mysterious errands to Headquarters.  One could cable to him
afterwards from the _Fraüenklinik_ at Berlin.

An electrical thrill of energy and purpose volted through the
humming-bird brain under the silken brown waves. Margot tossed back her
coverings and sat up suddenly in bed.  Her great eyes gleamed like a
lemur’s in the light of the night-globe.  She would steal that march on
Franky, she told herself, to-morrow, or at the latest, the day after.
Wouldn’t it be A1?

The small face dimpled into mischievous smiles.  She caught a glimpse of
it in a mirror on the opposite wall and kissed her little hand to Margot
with saucy gaiety.  If Franky, down at Westminster, could only know what
Kittums was planning!  She had a vision of the Houses of Parliament
under the white-hot August moonlight, outlined in bluish-green and
dazzling silver against a background of glittering black.  Like a
Limoges enamel, she told herself.  The long lines of electric arc-lights
stretching over the bridge, up Whitehall and down Victoria Street—all
along the Thames Embankment—strings of diamonds—crowds and crowds of
people ... talking bosh about War when there wouldn’t——She was asleep.

Asleep, while packed thousands waited under the blue glare of the
arc-lights for the rising of the Curtain on the World Tragedy, of which
four yearlong Acts have been played out.  For the tag of which Humanity
is waiting with held breath, too weary even to cry out: "_How long, O
Lord?—how long?_"

Prone to assume strange, angular attitudes when speaking, the Foreign
Secretary hung over and clutched at the dispatch-box before him, as
though it literally contained that most malignant of all the swarm of
Evils that issued from the Box of Pandora, as he told his hearers of the
rejection of the German bribe and warned them of the imminence of a
Declaration of War.  Then, amidst increasing, deepening excitement, the
Prime Minister read the appeal of the King of the Belgians, and told of
Great Britain’s ultimatum to Germany....

No wonder those close-packed crowds of sturdy Britons waited under the
blue glare of the arc-lamps to hear Big Ben bell the midnight hour.  As
the great voice boomed Twelve from the illuminated square of the dial
amidst the striking of the countless clocks of London, a tremendous roar
of cheers acclaimed the pipping of the egg of Fate and Destiny, echoed
by other crowds in distant thoroughfares, spreading in waves to the
unseen horizon, whose East was pregnant with the Kaiser’s Day.

That Fourth of August; Eve of the Feast of British Oswald, King, soldier
and Saint, whose Address to his Northumbrian warriors before the battle
of Denisburn, fought against Pagan Cadwalla in 633, the Catholic Church
enshrines in Her Chronicles:

"_Let us all kneel and jointly beseech the true and living GOD ALMIGHTY
in His Mercy to defend us from the doughty and fierce enemy.  For He
knoweth that we have undertaken a just War...._"

"Whereupon," says the Venerable Bede, "all did as the King commanded.
And advancing towards the enemy with the first dawn of day, they won the
victory their Faith deserved."

And before midnight of this pregnant Fourth of August, from the great
Wireless Station of Eilvise in Hanover, Germany flung round the world
this vital message to all her mercantile Marine:

"War declared on England!  Make as quickly as you can for a neutral

On the outbreak of War the British Navy cut the All German cables.  One
by one the German Colonial Wireless Stations were dismantled.  When the
great station at Kamina in Togoland fell, the only remaining link in the
system was between the Fatherland and the United States.

Dawn outlining the silken blinds, vied with the blue glimmer of the
night-lamp as Margot wakened, to hear, in the hush that precedes the
Brocken-hunt of Sloane Street motor-traffic, Franky’s low, urgent

"_Kittums_!  Kittums, best child!"

"What on earth did you wake me for?" said a sleepy and distinctly cross

"Couldn’t help it!  I simply had to tell you!" Franky began.

The little hand touched the electric clock-button and on the ceiling
wavered a gigantic dial of yellow brightness.

"_Had_ to!  At three o’clock in the morning!  When I was having such a
tophole dream!  Thought I was back at the Club in my three dear rooms
with the Adams doors and chimney-pieces—and Pauline came in with a huge
basket of white flowers—and I asked: ’_Who are they for?_’  And she
said: ’For Mademoiselle!’  And I was Margot St. John—and had never been
married!"  There was infinite wistfulness in the little voice.

"White flowers mean death, don’t they, when you dream of ’em?  And I’m
sorry your dip in the Bran Tub of Matrimony has turned out such a bad
investment.  What I came to tell you should revive your hopes of making
a better one, my child!"

That jarring note of mingled resentment and irony, how new and strange
it sounded to Margot!  Until this moment Franky’s voice had never been
anything but gentle.  It was gentle now as he said, at his dressing-room

"Finish your sleep.  I was rather a brute to wake you!"  He was going
without a backward glance.

"Come back!  Come off it!  Don’t be dignified!" Margot called after the
retreating figure.  "I’m quite awake now, so you’d better tell.  What’s

He came back to the bedside, looking tall and shadowy in the blue
dimness.  Margot put up a little hand and patted his cheek.  There were
wet drops upon the smooth, warm skin....  Perhaps he had walked home,
and it had been raining.  Or—

"_Franky_!  You’re not——"

He captured the little hand and took it in both his own, and squeezed
it.  He said in a cheerful but rather choky voice:

"Of course not!  And—the news could have waited. Only—since midnight
England and Germany have been at War.  The Big Scrap is three hours old.
First battalion of Ours is under orders for the Front—I’ve exchanged out
of the Second with Ackroyd—too sick a man for fightin’ just now, luckily
for me.  You know Ackroyd.  Used to flirt with him frightfully—to give
me beans when I’d vexed you when we were first engaged.  When do we go,
did you ask? Liable to be off at any old minute.  By-bye, little woman.
Too late to go to bed—heaps of things to attend to.  God bless you!  See
you at brekker—or lunch, if I’ve luck."

                              *CHAPTER L*

                        *THE EVE OF ARMAGEDDON*

Kittums, upon that fateful morning, coming down to breakfast and finding
no Franky, was annoyed.  One might just as well have had breakfast in
bed.  She didn’t want any, but Cook would be hurt if the chowder and
eggs, and croquettes of chicken weren’t eaten.  Therefore Margot ate—to
avoid wounding the cook.  The daily papers she left untouched, knowing
that War would leap out from the huge capitals heading the columns and
strike her in the eyes.

She had herself dressed and ’phoned for the car.  The house did not seem
a place to stay in, somehow.  Dowd was busy in his master’s room,
ordering Jobling about in loud authoritative tones and being waited upon
by the maids. Even Pauline, ordinarily scornful, referred to him as
"Monsieur Dowd" instead of "_zat man Dow!_"

Once in Sloane Street, the War rushed at you.  Groups of men, young, old
or middle-aged, stood talking at every street-corner, newspapers rustled
in every hand.  You couldn’t escape the papers.  Huge flaring headlines
shrieked from the broad-sheets in the gutters and on the railings: "WAR
OF BELGIUM BY GERMAN ARMY CORPS!"  The drapery salesman who was to win
the Victoria Cross, called from the top of a Knightsbridge motor-bus to
the grocer’s assistant who was to receive the Médaille Militaire at the
doughty hands of Joffre.... The budding airman who was to bring down a
Zeppelin single-handed chuffed past on a motor-cycle—the girls who were
to make shells for British guns, or pack made ones with T.N.T. and
kindred explosives, tripped along in their transparent hobble-skirts, to
meet Alf and Ted at the Tube. And neither Alf, who subsequently took
five Huns prisoner by the single hand, shepherding them back to the
British lines with dunts of the gun-butt and sarcasms more pointed, nor
Ted, who threw himself down over the exploding bomb, dying that his
comrades in the trench might live, dreamed what kind of chick would pip
Fate’s egg for him or her presently.  Yet the dullest face wore a new
expression, in the tamest eyes burned the light of battle!  Unquenched
it burns in them still, after four dreadful years of War.

The Club, already deserted by August holiday-makers, would be utterly
abandoned to chimney-sweeps, charwomen and window-cleaners, and yet
Margot told the chauffeur to drive to the Club.

Turning out of Piccadilly she discovered Short Street to be blocked by
taxi-cabs.  An endless procession of telegraph-boys plunged in and out
between the thudding swing-doors of the vestibule.  The vestibule was
congested with battered, dusty ladies, ladies’ maids even dustier and
more battered, and travelling bags battered and dusty to the _nth_

Some of the bags were bursting, not a few of the maids were hysterical.
All the returned travellers were telling their adventures at once.  The
air was thick with exclamations, explanations, cries and ejaculations.
Unfed, unslept, baggageless and penniless in many instances, the members
of the Ladies’ Social—seeking health, or novelty, in half the
pleasure-resorts upon the map of Europe—had come hurtling back to Short
Street like leaves driven before the furious blast of War.

"Has anything happened?"

Lady Norwater addressed this query to the Club hall-porter, a bald
person of habitually slow movements and singularly bland address.  The
man gnashed his teeth at her, uttering a sound between a groan and a
snarl—made as though to tear non-existent hair,—leaped with astonishing
nimbleness over a pile of luggage, and vanished.  Margot would have made
a note of his conduct in the Complaints register, but that the
hall-table was obliterated by heaps of rugs, dust-cloaks and
waterproofs.  Wondering, she made her way into the big General Room on
the ground-floor.

Here travel-creased, dust-smeared members sat in voluble rows on the
comfortable sofas, or reclined speechless in the capacious armchairs.
Medical men, hastily summoned by ’phone, moved noiselessly from patient
to patient. Husbands and male friends listened not unmoved, to piteous
recitals of adverse experiences undergone on enemy ground.

Kittums, snatched into the whirl, moved from friend to friend, gathering
experiences.  Mrs. Charterhouse, with her Pekinese pug and her maid, had
just arrived at Homburg to undergo treatment for a twenty-two-inch waist
when the War Cloud gathered monstrous on the horizon.  Had not her Swiss
doctor written a warning instead of a prescription the white and golden
Cynthia, Mademoiselle Mariette and Chin-Chin, would at this moment have
been languishing on rye bread and bean coffee in a Teutonic jail.

"As it is, we’ve spent a whole week, and every sou we had on us making
the journey!" said Cynthia, in her plaintive tones.  "They held us up at
Frankfurt, Basel, and Geneva! What inquisitions, what scowling
suspicious looks! To be hunted and suspect makes you wicked, I’ve found
out! When we got to Paris at four yesterday morning and took a rickety
_fiacre_ to the Palais—all the taxis have vanished!—I could have
_prayed_ for a cup of tea and a roll!  But at the Palais all was
confusion.  The hotel was shutting up—every male servant called to the
Reserve.  We got to the ’Spitz’—the same experience there!  Exhausted, I
sat on something in the vestibule—it moved, groaned, and I found it to
be the wreck of Sir Thomas Brayham.  He and Lady Wathe, his man and her
maid, who have been all through July at Franzenbad in the
Egerland,—reaching Paris after awful adventures, had all four been
hurled out in the same way. One of those jiggety motor-omnibuses took
all of us to the Couronne.  They were full to the roofs and cellars, but
they wedged us in, somehow!  Then, for two days Sir Thomas tore round
Paris trying to get _laissez-passers_."  She turned her lovely eyes upon
a large, stertorously-breathing but otherwise inert object reclining
with closed eyes and folded hands in the biggest of the Club armchairs.
"Didn’t you, Sir Thomas?"


Brayham, waking with a bewildered stare, regarded the charming Cynthia
uncomprehendingly until the Goblin, sitting opposite, centre of a knot
of bosom friends, repeated the query:

"Didn’t you run about Paris for passes for two days?"

"No!" bounced out Brayham, now aroused, and purpling under the coal-dust
that begrimed his large, judicial visage. He added, with a vestige of
his King’s Bench manner, as the Goblin stared at him in concern for his
mental state: "I retain the use of my reason, dear friend!  But I WILL
NOT consent that the varied tortures of the abominable ordeal I have
undergone could possibly be packed within the nutshell limits of
forty-eight hours!  Mph!"

So dust-covered was the ex-Justice that the very act of shaking his head
rebukingly at the Goblin, raised a cloud that made him sneeze.  He
uttered the curious composite sound that heralds sternutation, drew out
a voluminous, coal-dusty handkerchief, stared at it indignantly, and in
the very act of returning it to his pocket—fell asleep again.

"A perfect wreck, as I said just now!" whispered Mrs. Charterhouse to

"_How_ I congratulate you, dear Lady Wastwood," said the Goblin, "on not
having gone abroad!"

"Was it so horrid?" asked Trixie, sympathetically, arching the eyebrows
that resembled musical slurs.

"Was it so—"  Lady Wathe shrugged her thin shoulders and gave the ghost
of one of her rattling laughs.  "If to fight your way back, stage by
stage, amidst inconceivable difficulties, obstacles and insults, is
horrid!—if to travel for two long days and nights in trains crowded to
suffocating excess merits the term—" She loosened the quadruple string
of superb Oriental pearls that tightly clipped her stalk-like throat and
went on: "If it comes under the heading to find yourself and your
friends—in tatters after a suffocating struggle!—packed with sixty other
squalid wretches in a luggage-van _en route_ for Dieppe!  If to sit for
three hours on your jewel-case, waiting, in a crush of congested
humanity, for the arrival of the Newhaven boat—if to fight as with
beasts at Ephesus to gain its gangway—if to fall in a heap on the sodden
deck—to lie there lost to everything but the fact that the waves that
drench you are British waves, and the British coast is slowly crawling
nearer!—if all this and how much more, can be lumped under the term of
horrid, it has been, dear Lady Wastwood, horrid in the extreme!"

Lady Wastwood’s small, triangular, white face with the V-shaped scarlet
mouth, looked enigmatical.  She arched the thick black slurs that were
her eyebrows again, and said not without intent, to her crony Cynthia

"_Who_ would have _dreamed_ only three weeks ago, when that excessively
long-legged and extremely good-looking Count von Herrnung sat here and
talked to us about German women and German Supermen—that we should be at
War to-day with Germany?"

"Poor Count Tido!"  Something rattled in the Goblin’s meagre throat as
though she had accidentally swallowed some of her pearls.  "That
dreadful report in _The Wire_ made the Franzenbad treatment disagree
with me horribly! To be drowned in that commonplace North Sea crossing,
upon the very eve of realising the one ambition of his life!  For he
hated us so thoroughly!  His Anglophobia was a perfect obsession.  Poor
dear Tido!  One might call it a wasted career!"  The speaker dried a
tear and continued: "His family will be frantic.  You know he was to
have been married in October!  Baroness Kriemhilde von
Wolfensbragen-Hirschenbuttel.  Immensely rich!  Her father has large
interests in the pearl-fisheries of German New Guinea.  Her betrothal
gift, a superb black and white pearl, the Count always wore as a mascot.
Poor Baroness! She will be inconsolable.  Marriage means the first
draught of real freedom to young German girls!"

Mrs. Charterhouse said in her sweetly venomous way:

"Miss Saxham bears up—under the circumstances!"

"Under what circumstances, might one presume to ask?"  Then, reading
aright the ambiguous smile of Mrs. Charterhouse, the Goblin rattled out
her characteristic laugh:

"What absurdity!  You refer to a mere dinner-table flirtation in Paris.
The mere _rapprochement_ of _atomes crochus_!  Miss Saxham and Lady
Beauvayse dined with us on the night of the Grand Prix.  Poor Tido was
certainly struck with her.  I remember he talked about her eyes and
figure afterwards.  But her hair being so black and growing so
heavily—did not please him.  He found the effect—I think his term
was—’too crepuscular.’"

"Ah!  You throw a ray," said Mrs. Charterhouse in that sugared way of
hers, "on a mystery that has intrigued me. Now I know why Miss Saxham
went to the Atelier Wiber in the Rue de la Paix and got her crepuscular
tresses changed to terra-cotta!"

"_Not_ saffron?  Now," said Lady Wastwood, pensively tilting her own
green-gold head and elevating her arched black eyebrows, "I should have
called that shade saffron or tumeric.  Who do you suppose footed the
bill for the process?  The wretch Wiber simply won’t look at you under
four hundred and fifty francs!"

"Perhaps Vivie Beauvayse—" suggested Mrs. Charterhouse.

"I think not.  Vivie preferred the crepuscular effect.  It contrasted
capitally with her own style of colouring.  You must have noticed, they
are seldom seen going about together as they used.  Dear Lady Wathe, do
you feel faint? Can I get you anything?"

For something had clicked behind the Goblin’s pearls, and she had
suddenly stiffened in her seat.  The superb figure of Patrine Saxham had
entered by the swing-doors leading from the vestibule followed by a
tall, broad-shouldered young man in loose grey tweeds, whose left sleeve
displayed a band of black significantly new.

"Can that be Miss Saxham?  It must be!—her type is so unusual!  Not
having seen her since the night of the dinner I referred to I did not
quite grasp the meaning of your references to ingredients common in
Indian curries. Of course, I understand now!"  The Goblin surveyed the
tall, pliant figure with the dead beech-leaf hair through her lorgnette
before she leaned forwards and roused the sleeping Brayham by a brisk
application of the instrument.  "Look, Sir Thomas!  Would you have known
Miss Saxham?"

"Beparr! ... Wharr? ... God bless my soul, no!"

Brayham, turning in the armchair as the Zoo walrus turns in his concrete
pond, surveyed Patrine with a bloodshot stare.

"Silly girl!  Spoilt her looks!" he snorted.  "Handsome as the dooce
with her gipsy-black tresses.  Won her bet. Won’t get her ring now
though, unless von Herrnung paid before he flew!"

"Was there a bet between them?  How is it you never told me?  Have I
deserved this from you?" demanded Lady Wathe indignantly, as Mrs.
Charterhouse and Lady Wastwood exchanged glances and smiles.

"Sorry! ... Forgot! ..."  Brayham gobbled apologetically. "Man I know
happened to be close to ’em leaving Spitz’s Restaurant that Sunday night
in Paris.  Told me he heard von Herrnung lay Miss Saxham his magpie
pearl solitaire against a bit o’ Palais Royal paste she was wearing—that
she wouldn’t change the colour of her hair! Made the appointment for
her, with Wiber—’_Pastiches Artistiques_,’ and so on, _Rue de la Paix_.
He bragged of it afterwards at the _Cercle Moderne_!  Dam Germans! no
idea of decency!  Why do Englishwomen intrigue with ’em? Bounders that
kiss and tell!"

There was a significant pause, broken by the Goblin’s shrillest peal of
laughter.  The ex-Justice, whose vitality was low, folded his hands and
dozed again.  Then——

"Now we _know_ who footed the bill," said Cynthia Charterhouse in
dove-like accents.  While Trixie murmured in the vexed ear of Margot:

"Kitts, my dinkie, you are a pal of the Saxhams.  _How_ far had the
affair _really_ gone?"

"There was no affair!" said Margot’s sweet little voice, very clearly.
"Pat rather hated Count von Herrnung than otherwise!"

"Judging by the mute evidence of her hair—" began Mrs. Charterhouse,
languidly.  How Margot loathed these women, erstwhile her chosen friends
and associates, tearing with greedy beaks and vicious claws at the
reputation of an unmarried girl....

"Her hair belongs to her!  She can bleach it if she wishes!"  The little
figure rose to its altitude of four feet seven inches and surveyed the
scandalmongers with wrathful eyes.  "I have said that there was nothing
between Miss Saxham and Count von Herrnung"—the little voice was
crystal-cold: "I should be extremely obliged to all of you if you will
understand this clearly!  Miss Saxham is engaged to my husband’s cousin,
Alan Sherbrand."—Had Franky heard that stately reference to my husband,
he would have been "bowled," to quote himself.  "Franky likes him, and
so do I, tremendously!  We’re both keen on their bringing off the

There was another resounding silence.  Brayham snored melodiously.  Then
Trixie Wastwood said with her Pierrot smile:

"Really, Kitts, it was—hardly cricket not to have warned us!"

While Mrs. Charterhouse added in tones of iced velvet:

"Regard me also as prone beneath Miss Saxham’s Number Eight shoes.  Did
you say her _fiancé_ was a cousin of Lord Norwater’s?  Not possibly the
son of the uncle who died quite recently?  Captain the Hon. Noel
Sherbrand, late of the Royal Gunners....  My husband used to know him
before—people left off!"

"It is the same.  He muddled his career somehow, and—most people cut
him!  But he is _dead_," said Margot very deliberately, "and his son, if
we have no—" the delicate cheeks flushed with sudden vivid crimson—"his
son is perfectly tophole and Franky’s next heir.  We met him in June in
Paris, and so did Pat Saxham!  How do any of you know she didn’t tint
her hair to please _him_."

"Possibly she did!  But, according to Sir Thomas—it was the other man
who paid!"

"Odd, isn’t it?  In this world," said the Goblin with her crackling
laugh, "the other man invariably pays the bill! And so the young
gentleman over there—who is quite remarkably good-looking in the blond
Norman style—and who is going to marry Miss Saxham—succeeds to Lord
Norwater in—a certain eventuality!  May one be permitted to hope, dear
Lady Norwater, that Fate and yourself will combine fortuitously, to keep
the cousin out of the House of Peers!"

"Rude, ill-bred, horrid woman!" thought Margot, clenching her little
teeth to keep back these epithets. "How dare she twit me with—_that_!
How dare—"  Then her hot flush sank away and a mist came before her
eyes, and she would have fallen, but that Trixie Wastwood jumped up from
the sofa and threw about the little figure a kind, supporting arm.

"I’ve got you!  You’re not going to faint, Kittums, are you?  Forgive
us, my dinkie!  What _pigs_ we have been!"

"Heckling the tomtit for defending the saffron-crested blackbird!  I
rather agree with you," admitted Mrs. Charterhouse as Margot freed
herself, saying it was nothing, and proudly moved away.  "We women are
horribly spiteful," continued Cynthia.  "Yes, we are spiteful, Lady
Wathe!  I am perfectly in earnest.  What is the reason?  Will anything
cure us?  Do somebody tell me! Colonel Charterhouse would say it is
because we eat too much rich food, walk too little, automobile too much,
and want some useful work or other to occupy our minds!  He is coming
here to lunch with me—he was quite touchingly anxious to be invited!"
Her beautiful eyes widened as the swing-doors thudded behind three
entering masculine figures, "Why, here he is with Lord Norwater, and
your boy, Trixie!  All three in khaki!  What a day we are having!"

She added, as her handsome middle-aged Colonel made his spurred way
through the ever-thickening crush to her:

"I am enlightened!  So _this_ was your surprise!"

"Not half as big as mine when I found they were willing to take me.
’Fit as a fiddle,’ according to the M. O. Gad!"—he went on, as his wife
made room for him on the settle by her side—"as willingly as though he
had been somebody else’s husband," Lady Wathe said subsequently—"It’s to
my golf I owe it—these A.M.S. sawbones finding me in the pink!  And
instead of a back-seat, what do you think they’ve given me?  Command of
the Third Reserve Battalion of the blessed old Regiment, the Loyal North
Linkshires, _vice_ Crowe-Pinckney, kicked out by a gouty toe! ... How’s
that for an oldster of fifty-five, ... Eh, what?"  His chuckle was that
of a Fourth Form athlete picked to supply a gap in the School Eleven.
And Cynthia’s beautiful eyes, as she slipped her hand into the
Colonel’s, looked at him as the boy’s mother’s might have looked upon
her son.

Lady Wastwood’s Pierrot smile might have played upon the reunited couple
mockingly, but that the unexpected apparition of her boy Wastwood in
single-starred khaki, adorned with the badge of a crack Hussar Regiment,
girt with the Sam Browne and narrow officer’s shoulder-strap, and clad
as to the legs in spurred brown butcher-boots—dimmed her bright green
eyes and brought a choke into her throat.  Wastwood the son was so like
Wastwood the father—killed at Magersfontein in 1900,—whom Trixie, for no
reason apparently, had romantically adored.  A burly young man, pink as
a baby, with thick fair hair growing down within two inches of his
eyebrows, small, fierce blue eyes, and a huge roaring voice, softened
down now to a tender bellow as he answered a pale girl’s eager question

"Well, I can’t say exactly when we’re going to the Front, but I hope to
Christmas it’ll be soon!"

Wastwood’s engagement to the girl had been announced only the week
previously in the Society Columns of the leading dailies.  Now, while
Wastwood’s younger brother Jerry anguished in the throes of a final
Exam, at Sandhurst, the said Jerry being set upon getting a Commission
in time to go to the Front with one of the First Divisions—his elder sat
on a Club sofa and made love to the girl Jerry was subsequently to
marry.  For not only Wastwood’s title, but his vacant Commission as a
Lieutenant in the Dapple Greys and his sweetheart went to his junior
after Mons.

There was a lot of family and regimental re-shuffling and re-dealing,
you will remember, after Mons.

The leaven of the Great Awakening was working in the souls of these
worldly-minded, ultra-modern men and women, even as the crowd in the
rooms grew denser, as the buzz of talk became almost solid, and khaki
mingled with the brilliant toilettes.  Hardly a man but wore dead-leaf
brown.  Wives were entertaining their husbands, mothers were lunching
their sons, that day, at the multitudinous little tables in the great
and lesser dining-rooms,—there was a revival of old code-words, an
interchange of almost forgotten pet-names, a resurrection of ancient
jokes, when the atmosphere seemed dangerously charged with emotion. How
many Last Sacraments of renewed love were eaten and drunk by husbands
and wives who, estranged for years, were to be reunited by the War, and
parted by the War until the Day when Wars shall be no more.

That a tall young man in grey tweed with a crape armlet should sit
opposite Patrine that day at Margot’s special table was one of the
thousand miracles already wrought.

Sherbrand had shelved all recollection of that June adventure in the
Bois de Boulogne, when a flushed young husband in immaculate top-hat and
frock-coat had thanked an angry young man in waterproof overalls and
gabardine for not chopping his wife into kedgeree.

Could one be angry any more when this little human dragon-fly was what
Patrine called "a frightful pal" of hers.  Thank Heaven!  Patrine had
known nothing of the cousinship when she had answered Sherbrand’s plain
question, "Will you marry me?" with an assent:

"_Sooner than not!_"

"Then—it is settled?"

"Yes, you poor dear!  If you think me worth having!"

_Worth having_!  Sherbrand’s glorious Patrine.  Whom to be near was
heaven on earth.  Whom to obey was a lover’s luxury, even when she had
issued the mandate:

"Now, you must come to the Club and lunch with me, and meet my friends.
Do be decent to them!"

Perhaps you can see Sherbrand bowing rather stiffly to Margot and
accepting with the briefest hesitation the smallest of offered hands.

"I thought it must be the same!—I was certain there couldn’t be two
Flying Sherbrands.  Pat!—Mr. Sherbrand can’t deny the relationship,
though he disapproves of Franky and me most fearfully.  You’ll have to
teach him," went on the coaxing little voice, "that we’re lots and lots
nicer than he thinks us!  For we’ve got to be friends," said Kittums,
"if you and my dear Pat are going to be married! No time like the
present!  Can’t we begin now?"

What a vivid little face it was, though there were tired marks like
faint bruises under the great dark eyes, and the rose-flush in the
cheeks was less bright than it had seemed in June.  He released the tiny
jewelled fingers, and found himself presented to the husband.

"Frightfully glad to meet you—more reasons than one!"

Franky, slim, sleek-headed, and dapper in unblemished Regulation
tea-leaf, held out his hand, saying as he looked the other squarely in
the eyes:

"If I had known your Home address, I should like to have dropped a line
to you, when I—when I saw the newspaper yesterday."

"My mother lives at Bournemouth.  My father had been an invalid for
years.  I go down to-day by the afternoon train."

"Ah!  Please remember me to my—Aunt Jeannette."

From what dusty shelf of memories had Franky reached down the name of
his uncle’s unknown wife?  But it sounded pleasantly to Mrs. Sherbrand’s
son.  The cloud upon his forehead cleared away, and his cold sea-blue
eyes began to thaw into kindness:

"I’d like a word with you in private.  Do you mind comin’ out of this
clackshop into the vest*i*bulee?" Franky went on, quoting his favourite
Jimmy Greggson, and with a word to Margot and a glance on Sherbrand’s
part at Patrine, the two men passed through the swing-doors.  Here
Franky wheeled, and said with effort:

"This is a bit subsequent! but—if there’s time available and the date of
my uncle’s funeral doesn’t happen to be fixed, I should like to say—"
He grew furiously red and began to stammer: "My father ... myself ...
Dash! how brutally I bungle!  But my uncle has a right to—to lie in the
family vault with his ancestors.  It’s at Whins—the Church is in the
Castle grounds.  I can guarantee that my father—every
facility—sympathy—proper respect—"  He broke down.  Sherbrand answered,
now the cooler of the two:

"You are very kind, Lord Norwater.  My mother has already received a
telegram from Lord Mitchelborough conveying a message to the same

"I engineered that!" thought Franky complacently.  But he was fish-dumb.
Sherbrand went on:

"She would thank you, as I do, gratefully.  But my father—would have
preferred to be buried where he died!"

"Good egg!  And now there’s another thing to get off my chest," said
Franky.  "You know you stand in for the Viscounty when I succeed my
father, or if I get knocked out in this scrap—supposing I should kick
without heirs! That being so, suppose you bury the hatchet and lunch
with us?  Wouldn’t in Paris—perhaps you will now?  The War seems to rub
up old saws like new somehow.  That copy-book tag about Blood bein’
thicker than water! that’s one of the ones I mean.  In case my wife got
left—do you tumble?"—the ambiguous term was quite expressive—"I’d like
to think that you were—would be kind to her!"

"I should certainly—in that case—try to do what I could."  A certain
physical and mental resemblance showed between these two long-legged,
lightly-built, clean-made Sherbrands, standing together talking of grave
matters, with candour and simplicity and British avoidance of sentiment
and excess of words.

"But,"—Sherbrand found himself yielding to an impulse of confidence in
the owner of the brown eyes that were some inches below his own, "this
War is my chance!  I’m a certified pilot-aviator and constructor and
engineer. Perhaps there’ll be a chink in the Royal Flying Corps for
me—and many another fellow like me—before long—I hope, not very long!
For my father’s sake as much as for my own, I’m bound to make good—you

The brown eyes understood.  His kindred blood warmed to the look in

"He knew—my father knew that he had failed in life through his own
fault.  He did not resent his brother’s attitude.  He bore the
consequences more or less patiently, and when he died he left the
cleansing of his name to me.  Not that he was as badly to blame as
people thought.  He was born without sufficient of the quality
called—objectivity. It’s the power that keeps a man slogging, slogging
in one groove without getting mechanical or stupid, as long as he attain
his ends or can serve his country by keeping on.  It’s
_indispensable_!"—he emphasised the word, his strong blue-grey eyes full
on Franky’s—"as indispensable as lymph in your inner ear-tubes.  Without
it you can’t keep a level balance—whether you stand, or walk, or fly!"

"Miss Saxham—knows, I suppose?"

A flush crept up through Sherbrand’s tanning:

"I have told her.  It wasn’t pleasant.  But she—likes me enough to
overlook it.  She—seems to think I should never fail in that way!  I
hope to God I never shall!"  The old boyish terror of inherited weakness
cropped up in the tone of the man grown.  "It would be horrible to
suspect the bacillus of slackness lurking in my blood!  If there is—the
sooner I get scrapped, the better for her and for me!"

"Well, you’ve chosen the—kind of career that is going to use up a good
many men pretty quickly."  Franky was warming more and more to this big
blond, candid cousin. "Not that I think there’s much of the slacker
about you. Few chaps more fit and nervy—that is, going by looks, you
know!  But if the Kaiser’s Flying Men can shoot on the wing as well as
they brag they can"—his brown eyes were watchful for a change in the
other’s face—"then——"

"Then I tumble out of my sky, a dead bird!" said Sherbrand, squaring his
broad shoulders, "and someone luckier fills my place!"

"Thumbs up!  Ten to one you’d come down with a broken wing or so."
There was something that touched Franky’s latent quality of imagination
in the fellow’s queer way of saying "my sky."  "This cousin of mine is a
handsome fellow," he said to himself, "and a plucky one.  And—by the
Great Brass Hat!—now I come to think of it—the livin’ image of old Sir
Roger Sherbrand—his and my great-grandfather—goin’ by the portrait in
the gallery at Whins."

"So you’re firm on joinin’ the Flying Corps..." he went on, feeling for
the moustache which had been reduced to Regulation toothbrush size.
"Good egg You! Wish you all the sporting chances——"

"And better luck," said Sherbrand drily, "with Bird of War No. II. than
I had with No. I.!"

"You’re building a new ’plane?"  The brown eyes were alight with

"Rather!  Come and have a look at her one day."

"Like a shot, if only I’d time!  Did she tot to a hatful of money?"

"Something under £700.  £500 of that goes for the new ’Gnome’ engine.
You see that German—"  Sherbrand broke off.

"I remember!  Pretty rough on you, that North Sea crossin’ business.
Must have been an awful loss.  Look here!"  Franky reddened again and
began to flounder. "Could I—couldn’t I—help with the boodle?  Got £700
lying by idle.  Frightfully glad if you’d let me chip in!—just in a
cousinly sort o’ way!"

"I am much obliged to you, Lord Norwater."

Confound the fellow! how he froze at the least hint of patronage.  He
went on, holding his head high:

"You are very kind, but I am not poor, unless as poverty is understood
by people of your world.  Apart from what my profession brings me I have
something in the way of income.  My mother’s brother left me a sum of
money that brings in yearly over £200."  He went on as Franky regarded
with unaffected interest the man who wasn’t poor on two hundred _per
annum_: "The principal—I suppose it tots up to £6,000—I shall naturally
settle on my wife."

He warmed and brightened with the utterance of the word.  His cold eyes
grew soft and his brows smoothed pleasantly.  He said with a glowing
pride, and a kind of brave shyness that a woman who loved him would have

"I have said nothing yet to Miss Saxham about my hopes of a Commission—I
suppose for fear of not pulling the thing off.  But the moment it comes
along I shall persuade her to marry me.  We’ll be man and wife before I
fly for the Front."

As cocky as though he had landed the biggest catch in the matrimonial
waters, thought Franky, instead of that great, slangy, galumphing young
woman without a halfpenny at her back.  But he did the amiable, in a way
characteristic of Franky, ushering the guest back to the luncheon-room,
introducing "my cousin" to people worth knowing, doing the honours with
a pleasant cordiality that won upon Sherbrand more and more.

Sherbrand took leave directly after lunch, saying that he had to catch
the afternoon express for Bournemouth.  He had left his bag and
suit-case in the hall-porter’s care. Would Patrine?—Patrine read the
entreaty in the hiatus and yielded to it, saying Yes, she would drive
with him, and see him off from Waterloo.

"It’s lovely of you!" Sherbrand said to her gratefully as they rose.
She gave him her cordial smile and a soft glance from the long eyes.
They took leave of their hosts and passed out together, heads slewing as
the tall young figures went by.

Once in a taxi, spinning down Short Street, Sherbrand possessed himself
of the hand he coveted.  Its warm strong, answering clasp thrilled him
to speechlessness.  He looked at the long white fingers intertwined with
his own, and asked himself whether he were deserving of a happiness too
great to be credited.  When her shoulder touched his, its warm creamy
whiteness gleaming through the dead-white of her thin sleeve, his heart
drummed until it seemed as though she could not but hear it.  But his
was not the only heart that beat....

"Thank you."  It was her rich warm voice speaking close by his ear.
"Thank you for being so nice to my Kittums!  She is the truest little
soul going.  We have been chums ever since I joined the Club.  Never
quarrelled once—until she made up her mind to marry Franky——"

"And now you’re going to marry Franky’s first cousin."  Sherbrand
laughed rather breathlessly.  "’Marry’ ... ’Marriage.’  Two splendid
words with meanings and meanings beyond meanings packed into them.
Isn’t it wonderful? ..."  He gripped the warm white hand in his strong
brown one.  "Pat, your pulses are playing a tune!"

"So are yours," she answered in a low tone.

"What is it?"  He bent his head and set his lips in a swift caress to
the back of the white hand.  Then he turned it gently over and looked
earnestly at the blue wrist-veins. They were full and throbbing
tumultuously.  Her blood was answering to the call of his.  He set a
second swift kiss upon them and his voice was unsteady as he said:

"I know the name of the tune, my wonder.  Patrine! Love!—it’s the
_Wedding March_!"

"Whose?  Grieg’s, or Wagner’s in _Lohengrin_, or Haydn’s?"

"Neither Wagner’s nor Haydn’s nor Grieg’s.  Yours and mine!  I told Lord
Norwater to-day that I meant to make sure of you before I fly for the

"You’re going to the Front?  Oh!—why?"  Her long eyes looked at him with
sharp terror in them.  He answered:

"When the Powers that be offer me a Commission in the Royal Flying

"I see."  She breathed freely.  "And so—we are not to be married until

"Would you—to-morrow, if I——"

"You know I would!"  Her voice broke over him in a wave of tenderness.
"You’ve made me love you—so dreadfully, Alan.  Now if the little tin
gods hear us—the spiteful little gods who spoil people’s lives—something
will happen to part us, soon."

His arm went round her and gathered her against him. He said with a
great thrill of triumph:

"If the Great God is for us we can defy the little tin devils!  It was
He who made us for each other, brought us together—will bring us closer

He added, as a handsome boy of nineteen or twenty, dressed at the zenith
of the fashion, and already showing the worn lines of habitual
dissipation, flashed by driven in a silver-grey Lanchester, with a
notorious Cyprian enthroned at his side:

"How can I thank Him enough for what He has done for me?  How many
temptations He has helped me resist, that I might come to you clean

"Were any of the temptations like Mrs. Mallison?"  She had freed her
hand from his, and now leaned forwards, hiding her clouded face from
Sherbrand under the pretext of following the grey car with her eyes.
"That was little Wyvenhoe with her....  How young he is!  And how old
she must be!  Why, I’ve seen her portrait in a Book of Beauty dated
forty years back—with a chignon and waterfall. They called her the
Marble Marvel in those days, didn’t they?  Before she pitched her cap
over the windmill, and made hay of the Prunes and Prisms.  Now she acts
in Music Hall sketches—has a voice like a raven’s, paints a
quarter-of-an-inch thick, and exploits Eton boys.  Is anything the

Sherbrand had suddenly started and pulled his watch out. Now he rapped
on the glass at the back of the chauffeur, leaned out of the window and
spoke to the man, and resumed his seat, answering:

"The matter is that I had forgotten an important appointment.  I can
manage to keep it by the skin of my eyelids by taking the three o’clock
train to Bournemouth instead of the two-thirty Express.  You won’t mind?
You’ll come with me and wait for me?"

"Not a little bit! ..." she answered to the one question and to the
other: "Of course I will!"

                              *CHAPTER LI*

                           *THE INWARD VOICE*

The taxi, arrested and reversed on its way to Piccadilly Circus, was
soon speeding Westwards.  It whirred up Berkeley Street, traversed
Berkeley Square, and turned into a short street ending in railings,
enclosing grass wonderfully green for August, clipped bushes of
evergreens, and some autumn-foliaged planes.

"We’ll keep the man.  I’ll take his number.  He’ll look after my kit for
me.  Let me help you out, dear!"

He opened a gate in the railings and let her through.  A large double
house, with many windows, severely screened with brown curtains and wire
blinds, loomed behind them, commanding the oblong patch of London green.
The Modern Gothic porch of a lofty building of smoke-darkened freestone
rose up before them.  Patrine said under her breath, realising the
ecclesiastical character of the edifice:

"Great Scott!  It’s a church!"

But Sherbrand, who had stayed to shut the gate in the railings did not
hear the tabooed expletive.  He caught her up and turned the massive
iron handle of the porch-door which was braced by bands of iron with
trefoil heads, and studded with heavy nails.  They went down two shallow
steps into an oblong, vaulted chamber, very cool and dark and fragrant,
tesselated with squares of black and white stone.  Slabs of black marble
lined the walls to the height of a tall man.  An inscription in Early
English lettering, cut into the black background and gilded, caught
Patrine’s eye in passing.  She read beneath the symbol of the Cross:

[Illustration: Cross. "Sodality of the Blessed Sacrament"]

Under were lists of names, all male, ranged alphabetically. Her quick
eye dropped to the initial S. and found Sherbrand there.  But when she
looked for her companion, he was waiting hat in hand, at a door some
distance beyond them.

"You will come in and wait for me?" he whispered as she came towards

"Why not?  As well here as anywhere!"  He opened the door and she passed

To Patrine’s left hand, close to the door by which they had entered, was
a small unpretending altar supporting the tinted image of an emaciated,
bearded monk in a black robe girdled with a white cord.  A clustered
pillar of red and white marble supported a shallow basin containing a
little water.  Patrine shrugged as Sherbrand dipped his fingers and made
upon brow and breast the sacred Sign.  Then he seemed to hesitate—dipped
again and held the wetted finger tips towards her, evidently courting
her touch.  She shook her head hastily.  Her eyes swept purposely past
his, scanning the vast interior.  They were standing in the shorter
southern transept of what was _some_ church.

The vast nave was dark and cool, full of silence and shadow and the
perfume of flowers and incense, mingled with a fragrance far subtler
than these.  Pillars of richest Modern Gothic design supported the roof,
whose forest of rich dark timbers showed little adornment, except at the
Sanctuary end.  Here coffering, diapering, and gilding made for
splendour; rich marble cased the pillars and floored the stately choir
with its rows of stalls, wrought in dark wood, elaborately carved.  The
north transept housed the organ, a towering instrument of many pipes.
The scarlet cushion on the vacant organ-bench, the book of chants left
upon the rack, the black and yellow-white of the well-used keys, the
numbered heads of the stops, showed through the lattice-work of a high
wrought-iron screen, wonderfully painted and gilt.  Between Patrine and
the nave was a pulpit of red and white marble like the pillars, with a
carved sounding-board of obviously ancient work.  Rows of pews flanked
the wide central aisle and the two smaller, and on the right of a lofty
oaken screen that masked the west door, with the mellow light of a great
rose-window falling on it, towered a huge Crucifix in black marble,
upholding a white tortured Figure whose drooping thorn-crowned Head,
like His hands and feet and side, dripped with crimson....  Patrine
winced at the sight, and turned hastily away.

Now she was looking over the head of Sherbrand, who knelt before her
upright and motionless,—at the High Altar, backed with a noble triptych,
its three panels displaying the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the
Nativity.  A silver lamp depending by chains from the centre of the
Sanctuary roof burned with a small steady flame before the
Tabernacle—standing between tall tapers burning in gleaming
candlesticks, and vases of huge white golden-anthered August
lilies—hiding behind its broidered curtains and golden doors, the
Ineffable Mystery.

"Come!" Sherbrand’s whisper said, close at her ear as he rose up.  She
turned and followed him down a side-aisle. "Sit here!" he signed to her,
pointing to a narrow bench. He waited until she was seated, laid his hat
and stick beside her, gave her a grave smile, bent his knees once more,
looking towards the High Altar and moved noiselessly away.

Turning her head to follow him with her eyes, Patrine saw that the large
dark church was not as empty as she had supposed.  Kneeling or seated
figures of men and women were scattered here and there amongst the
wilderness of empty pews.  The serried rows of rush-bottomed
kneeling-chairs in either side-aisle showed aggregations of people, ten
or a dozen together, chiefly in the neighbourhood of certain narrow
wooden doors appertaining to small structures that might be little
chapels or vestries, set between groups of pillars in regular sequence
down the length of the side-walls. Still following Sherbrand’s figure
with her eyes she saw him knock at one of the doors, wait as though for
an answer, and enter.  As the door swung towards her, she saw that it
bore a name in gilt letters within an oval on the upper panel.  Each of
the doors, a questing glance satisfied her, bore a name.

Of course the little wooden chapels were confessionals. Was Confession
the important business that necessitated Sherbrand’s losing a train and
foregoing the company of Patrine to the station, a favour so eagerly
sought and so ardently received?  Her red lips curled a little at the
corners as she turned her face back towards the High Altar, rising
within the low barrier of the red and white marble Communion-rail.  So
remote and pure and set apart with its tall, shining lights and gleaming
vases of pure white lilies, its snow-white silk frontal embroidered with
a golden ray-surrounded Chalice, its fair white linen Altar-cloth, with
a running border of Old English lettering in dark rusty red:

             "He had borne our Infirmities and Carried out
              Sorrows.  He was Wounded for our Iniquities.
                     He was Bruised for our sins."

The words seemed to have a physical as well as mental force and
impressiveness.  It was as though they swept from the high white Table
through the fragrant, wax-lit stillness of the Sanctuary, winnowing the
still, spicy air of the dark nave and the lighter side-aisles as with
wide, powerful, unseen wings.  And despite the presence of nearly a
hundred people scattered about the great building, the stillness was
extraordinary.  It got on the nerves.

Almost awfully upon the nerves.  For a long way behind her, where the
shadowy dusk brooded thickest, and the white tortured Figure of the
Crucified hung drooping from the great Cross of black marble against the
background of the towering oak screen, it was as though the first great
drops of a thunder-shower were falling, _pat, pat, pat!_ upon the
pavement below.

Merely a trick of imagination—and yet it tortured.  One knew by
sensations like these that one had been frightfully overstrained of
late.  One had done lots of things one regretted—several things one
disliked to think of; one thing that made one hate oneself sometimes
with a very fury of intensity, when one wasn’t too busy hating _him_.
But since he was drowned, one had felt it scarcely cricket to go on
expending fierce resentment and savage disgust and acute loathing in
that direction.  One heaped it on the living of the two gross, sensual
offenders.  Oh God! when Sherbrand had said in that tone of triumph:

"_I come to you clean!_"

How inexpressibly one had abominated oneself.  How one had shrunk
against the side of the taxicab, pretending to look after wretched
little decadent Wyvenhoe and the unquenchable Mrs. Mallison—feigning
sudden absorption in the Piccadilly shop-windows, to escape those clear
undoubting eyes that pierced one to the very soul.  To be thought good
when one was wicked, pure when one was the other thing; believed candid
when one was a living lie. Ah!—that not only pierced but scorched.

If anybody, a month or so back, had asked Patrine: "Are you a
Christian?" she would have retorted: "What are you playing at?  Of
course I am—I suppose!"  Of late that conjectural Being she had called
God had receded, faded, grown dimmer, and vanished.  But here in the
stillness, looking towards the Altar, she was conscious as those
candle-flames went up like prayers from faithful souls, that Good and
Evil were living warring Forces.  You chose White or Black deliberately,
and when Death came—it was anything but the end.

Her hair stiffened slightly on her scalp and a light shudder thrilled
through her.  She felt with a growing awe, and sense of dreadful
certainty, that Someone was looking at her. And to relieve the
insupportable tension she stretched out her hand, and took a squat,
thick little book from the shelf below the seat in front of her.  It was
a copy of the Douai translation from the Latin Vulgate of the Bible, and
there was a purple marker where she opened it, in the middle of the Book
of Job.

"_Power and terror are with Him...._"

That was the first line that caught her eye.  A little lower on the page

"_Was it not Him that made life?  Hell is naked before Him and there is
no covering for destruction....  He stretched out the North over the
empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing._

"_He hath set bounds about the waters, till light and darkness come to
an end...._

"_The pillars of heaven tremble and dread at His beck.  By His power the
seas are suddenly gathered together, and His Wisdom hath struck the
proud one._

"_His Spirit hath adorned the heavens ... and seeing we have heard
scarce a little drop of His Word, who shall be able to withstand the
thunder of His greatness?_"

It was like a Voice speaking—a Voice of inconceivable magnitude.  It
made one go cold, asking oneself the question: What if sin were an
insult to Him?  A scrap of filth flung in the Face of One who created
the atom, the protoplasm, the cell, and the bacillus, and built from
these in His own Image, Man.

Sitting in the stilly duskiness the woman He had made shut her eyes and
tried to envisage Him.  He was not the God of the Curate’s
Confirmation-class, nor the God the Anglican Vicar of the West End
Church preached about, but a Being the hem of whose garment extends
beyond the confines of Space, and in whose lap lies Eternity.  Infinite
Goodness, infinite Love, infinite Purity, infinite Beauty, He could
stoop to care for the little beings of His Workmanship so much, that for
them He did not hesitate to sacrifice Himself in the Person of His Only
Son.  Did not love such as this make wilful sin an insult to Him in that
Son’s Person? Wasn’t it—pretty rough on Our Saviour—to have poured out
His Blood upon the Cross of Calvary as an atonement for the sins of men
like dead von Herrnung, and women like Patrine Saxham, and know them
still so beastly, so prurient, so base, so vile? ... It began to dawn
upon Patrine, still possessed by that strange hallucination of the Blood
that dripped heavily from the tortured Body on the great black Cross
behind her, how it might be that evil wilfully committed, opened its
Wounds afresh.  Drove the thorns anew into the drooping Head of the
Crucified, pierced once more the Heart, that inexhaustible fountain of

"_O! all you that pass by ... attend and see if there be any sorrow like
unto My Sorrow._"

The words came cropping up through layers of sentences heard and
forgotten, clearly as though a voice had spoken them at her side.

This afternoon the headlines of papers had shrieked of horrors.  You
remember that at seven o’clock in the morning two German Army Corps had
poured into Belgium by the eleven strategic railways that provided for
The Day. The vast grey-green flood of marching men, the huge python-like
columns of machine-guns, the splendidly-horsed batteries of field
artillery, the Brobdingnagian siege howitzers thundering behind their
traction-engines, the miles of motor- and horse-drawn transport-waggons,
carts, and lorries, blotted out the familiar features of the landscape,
as, preceded by massed brigades of cavalry, with squadrons of Field
Flying Service aëroplanes reconnoitring three thousand feet overhead,
the hosts of Germany rolled down towards the banks of the Meuse.

Directly in line of them rose the fortified City of Liége, termed "the
Birmingham of Belgium," holding in the suburb of Seraign, five miles
distant from the city, the huge Cockerill machine-plant and foundry, one
of the largest ironworks in the world.  They had stayed three hours at
the frontier station of Visé, a Belgium Custom House town of less than
4,000 inhabitants, where a few squadrons of Belgian Cavalry and the
Belgian 12th Line Regiment, aided by some heroic peasants, farmers, and
townspeople had risen up with desperate gallantry to oppose their
inevitable advance.

They had written the sign-manual of the Hun upon the ashes of Visé in
the blood of its massacred inhabitants. Frightfulness, the many-headed
hydra, was uncaged and let loose ere they rolled on to Liége peeved by
their three hours’ intolerable delay.  While I who write and you who
read far from the sound of fusillades, or the crash of shells or the
yells of peasants dying amongst the flames of burning houses, learned of
these deeds from the shrilly clamorous headlines, and asked one another
with raised eyebrows, in incredulous voices: "_Can these hideous things
possibly have been done?_"

Patrine had no doubt that they had been done!—were being done even while
she sat waiting in Sherbrand’s church for Sherbrand.  Did she not know
von Herrnung?  Were not his fellow-officers and the soldiers he and they
commanded, lustful, brutal, cruel, rapacious, arrogant, and pitiless
even as he?  He was a Type—not the isolated example of a new species.
It would not be easily stamped out; its dominating characteristics would
write themselves upon a conquered race.  Those outraged wives, those
violated daughters of Belgium would live to see it reproduced in the
living fruit of their humiliation.  What honest man could bear to stoop
over his wife’s bedside and meet the eyes of the Enemy looking at
him—from the face of a new-born child!

A rigor of horror seized upon her body and shook it.  Her jaw dropped,
her eyes closed as though they shrank and withered under their
contracting lids.  She slid from her seat and fell upon her knees
helplessly.  Her head sank forwards upon the hands that rose
instinctively to hide her face.  In the same instant Sherbrand’s low
voice speaking behind her turned the heart in her bosom to ice.

"Dearest—I am ready, that is if you are?  My keeping you was
unavoidable.  I am going to Communion with my mother, before the Funeral
Mass to-morrow, and I wanted to make my Confession first.  Has the time
seemed long?"

"Not long.  Shall we go now?"

He bent the knee to the High Altar and moved with Patrine down the nave
towards an altar dedicated to the Virgin Mother, that was on the south
side of the church near the great west door.  Wax tapers of several
sizes burned in a brass stand beside the tiny altar-rail.  Sherbrand
lighted three tapers and placed them, felt in his waistcoat-pocket for a
bit of silver and balanced it on the slotted top of the money-box too
gorged with pennies to admit of the slender sixpenny bit.  Then with a
beautiful, devotional simplicity he knelt upon the narrow blue
golden-starred cushion for a moment, looking up at the gracious veiled
head that bent above.

But for the modernity of the tweed clothes, the pose of the athletic,
lightly-built body would, with the mellowed light from the great rose
window falling on the keen bronzed face and thick fair hair, have
suggested a knight at prayer.  In a moment he rose.  They returned as
they had come, passed through the chapter-house of the Sodality, and
issued through the door into the garden.  She said, as he triumphantly
possessed himself of the dear white hand:

"Tell me, when you lighted and placed those three candles and knelt
down—what did you intend—what was it for?  A practical insurance against
a railway-accident?"

The dull, ill-timed gibe was no sooner uttered than she sickened with
self-contempt.  For Sherbrand answered with direct simplicity:

"Well, no!  Call my three candles a reminder that I have asked Our
Lady’s help and protection and guidance for three dear people.  My
father, my mother, and my wife that is to be.  For myself I asked that I
might never disappoint you.  You don’t know how I shall try to live up
to your belief in me!"

"You dear boy!"  Touched to the quick response of tears she could barely
falter: "You’re a million times too good for me, if only you knew!"

"I know this—that the wide world doesn’t hold another woman like my
woman!  Why, Pat, the very sound of your voice lashes all the blood in
me into big red roaring waves of love."

"’Big red roaring waves.’  Oh, Alan!"

She laughed, driving back the hot salt tears that stung her eyelids.
The taxi was waiting at the corner of Blount Street, patiently ticking
out twopence.  Sherbrand whistled and it approached them.  But this time
Patrine did not enter.  She could not now drive to Waterloo. It was
much, much too late.  She refused even to be dropped anywhere.  She
infinitely preferred walking. It was quite a pleasant stroll from there
to Harley Street.

So they wrung hands and looked in each other’s eyes and parted.  When
the taxi vanished round the corner of Blount Street, the tall,
gallantly-borne figure in the golden-braided hat and pale rose gown
began to walk swiftly towards Grosvenor Square.  Suddenly it paused,
wheeled, and returned upon its paces, passed through the gate in the
railings and disappeared into the church.

In bed that night in the chintz-hung room at Harley Street, Patrine,
recalling the experience that had followed the yielding to that
irresistible prompting, wondered if it had actually taken place, or were
woven of the tissue of dreams.

Kneeling upon a bast matting-covered hassock behind the door of the
narrow little wooden cell into which she had slipped as a tall,
grey-haired officer in Service khaki passed out,—she had rested her
elbows upon a narrow ledge before her and peered through a close grating
of bronze wire at a figure dimly descried beyond.

The priest was white-haired and of small stature.  A meagre ray of light
falling from above upon the hands clasped over the ends of the narrow
stole of violet-purple that hung loosely about his neck, showed them
wasted and yellow-white and deeply wrinkled.  By the testimony of the
hands he was an old man.  Something in the manner of her address must
have struck him as unusual.  She had not spoken six words in her quick,
hot, stammering whisper before he lifted a hand and said


And as she had arrested the rush of her words, he had continued, in a
grave, dry voice, quite devoid of unction or sympathy, cautiously
lowered and yet wonderfully distinct:

"You say that you wish to ’confide something’ to me ’under the seal of
Confession,’ and you are not a Catholic!"

"No, I am not!  I suppose I would be called—a sort of Christian,
though."  She said it haltingly.  "Does my not being a Catholic prevent
you listening to anything I ... want to say?"

The dry voice came back:

"I do not refuse to hear what you have to say.  But Confession,
Absolution, and Penance are Catholic Sacraments. I cannot extend the
benefits of the Church to one who stands without her pale."

"I’m sorry! ... I suppose, I really haven’t got the right to ask advice
from you, or to expect you to keep anything—secret?"

There was a little old man’s cough.  The dry voice followed:

"I did not say that.  As a priest, I am bound to give good counsel to
those who ask it.  And I promise you, also as a priest, to respect your
confidence....  Now if you desire to go on—for I have several penitents
waiting—I will ask you to do so.  Be clear and truthful and brief.
Mention no person by name.  Let there be no exaggeration. Now begin!

"It’s like this..."  And she had blurted out the ugly, sordid story,
that in the plain, unvarnished narration grew uglier and more sordid

He had listened without the movement of an eyebrow or the twitch of a
muscle.  At certain points where she had deviated from the sheer fact by
a mere hairsbreadth the dry little cough had interjected: "Think again!"
When she touched upon the circumstances that had resulted in "another
man’s" offer of marriage:

"You have accepted this other?" he had asked, and followed her
affirmative by saying, quietly, just as he had told her she was not a
Catholic: "You have not told him of—what has taken place.  Is he an
honourable, upright man?"


"H’mm!" said the dry cough.  "What is his religion?"

"He is a Catholic."

"H’mm! ... A devout Catholic?"

"He seems—awfully keen on his Church!"

A silence had followed, during which the beating of Patrine’s heart and
the singing of the blood in her ears had seemed to fill the clean little
wooden place.  Then:

"Do you intend to tell this keen Catholic," asked the merciless voice,
"that you do not come to him—pure?"

"No! ... At least..."  The heave of her bosom against the little shelf
before the lattice made the dry wood quiver and creak.  A deep sigh
broke from her.  The priest’s voice continued:

"You have made it quite clear why you have applied to me.  To be
encouraged not to tell!  But even for your own sake I advise you to make
confession.  Do you expect God’s blessing upon a marriage that is—upon
your side—a fraud?"

"Men aren’t angels!" Patrine burst out rebelliously. "How do I know that
he—Yes, I do know!"

His face had risen up before her, and his voice was in her ears saying
with that note of gladness in it: "I come to you clean!" and shame and
compunction choked her, as she added:

"He’s straighter than I should have believed it possible for any man to

"H’mm!"  The dry hacking old man’s cough came again.  He sniffed twice,
sharply.  Now he was speaking again.

"You have not known many—or any Catholic men before this one.  Your
doubt as to the existence of masculine purity proves with what type of
persons you have hitherto mixed.  For your own sake you will be wise to
tell the truth to this gentleman.  If you loved him you would tell him
for his.  Now you must leave.  I have given you too much time as it is.
Repeat after me as I dictate."  He clasped the withered hands and began
briskly: "_Oh, my God——_"

After a brief ineffectual hesitation, Patrine echoed him. He went on
trailing after him a voice that stumbled and dragged:

"_Oh, my God!  I am very sorry that I have offended Thee by the sin of
fornication, and have yielded up my body to uncleanness, instead of
keeping myself pure as Thou commandest. I beseech Thee for the love of
Thy Son my Saviour Jesus Christ to bestow upon me the grace of a genuine
sorrow for my sin; and while I implore that Thou wouldst mercifully
spare me the ruin and disgrace I have merited by my own act, I
faithfully promise Thee to profit by the bitter lesson I have learned.
But if I find myself as the natural consequence of my wickedness——_"

"_—of my wickedness——_"

The dragging echo failed.  A mist came before her eyes.

"Go on," said the stern voice from the other side of the grating.  It
went on dictating:

"_But if I find myself as the natural consequence of my sinfulness about
to be the mother of a child, I vow not to be guilty of any violence to
the innocent.  But to bear my bitter punishment meekly, as coming from
Thy Hand.  Amen._"

She said the words.  He blessed her with some such words as these:

"Now may God bless and forgive you, and bring your soul from darkness
into His Light.  Leave me now.  Please shut the door."

She heard the dry little hacking cough again as she closed it after her.
But she did not go away thinking him harsh and merciless.  She had seen
great shining tears dropping, dropping upon those withered hands.

                             *CHAPTER LII*


Remember how upon the great grey canvas of London, broadly splashed in
with khaki, from the becoming dead-leaf of the Regular troops to the
deadly ginger of the newly mobilised Reserve or the hideous
mustard-yellow of the latest recruit to the newest Territorial
unit—Recruiting posters of every shape, size, and method of appeal to
patriotism, suddenly flared out, ranging from the immemorial
red-and-blue printing on white to the huge pictorial hoarding-plaster in
monochrome.  Dash in as values the glow of re-awakened patriotism, the
resounding silences in which Royal Messages to British Citizens and
lieges were delivered by grave officials in scarlet gowns and curly
white wigs, and the singing of the National Anthem by huge crowds
gathered in front of Buckingham Palace, to cheer, over and over again
the King, the Queen, and the Heir to the British Throne.

Recall how keenly-curious Britons densely thronged the neighbourhood of
the Houses of Parliament, eager to ascertain the British attitude
towards France and other Continental Powers; while immense aggregations
of people blocked the entrance to Downing Street, surging outside the
wrought-iron screens protecting Ministerial windows; congesting
Whitehall until omnibuses proceeded at a snail’s pace.

Revive the strange newness of things, the snap and tingle of seeing not
only Royal Palaces and Government Offices, but vital places such as
Arsenals, Docks, Railway, and Electric Power stations, Powder-magazines
and Munition Stores closely guarded by men in tea-leaf or ginger-brown.
Sickly the hot flush of things so new with the pale dread of ruin, the
ugly rumours of Invasion.  Shadow in broad and black, a panic on the
Stock Exchange, the dizzying fall of prices on Continental Bourses, the
record slump on Wall Street, the frenzied stampede of the run upon the
Banks, the Proclamation from the steps of the Royal Exchange of the
strange thing called by nearly everybody—anything but a Moratorium; as,
for example, a Monatorial, a Monoroarium or Honorarium, and so on.

Who could ever forget the excitement attendant on the sailing of famous
passenger and cargo-liners with quick-firers and Maxims nosing through
steel shields abaft the lower bridge?  How the Red Cross notified its
surgeons, nurses, and ambulance-helpers to hold themselves ready for
business, and a neat khaki rig-out that had puzzled us in several
unfamiliar details, turned out to be the Service uniform of the Royal
Flying Corps.

German and Austro-Hungarian Reservists of all classes, summoned home by
the strident bellow of Fatherland, surged round their respective
Consulates.  Prince Cheraowski, Representative of Germany, having had
his passports handed him, shrugged the shrug of a disgruntled man,
lighted a cigarette, and took a farewell constitutional through St.
James’s Park.  And, on the Declaration of War with Austria-Hungary a few
days later, Count Lensdorff received his walking-ticket, and gracefully
vanished from the scene.  And from the hall-doors of one Embassy in
Carlton House Terrace and another in Belgrave Square, British workmen,
cheerfully whistling, unscrewed the massive brazen plates.  Crowds
watched the operation in phlegmatic silence; the single individual who
loosed a "boo" being promptly bonneted by a disapproving majority, and
moved on by the police, while the windows of the British Embassy at
Berlin were being shattered by brickbats, as were those of divers
British consulates and Legations throughout the Fatherland.  On the mud,
stones, and verbal filth lavished on their inmates, of the Yahoo-like
usage undergone by Englishmen and Englishwomen, we may not dwell, but I
do not think we are likely to forget.

Recall again, how vast public spaces carefully kept and tended by
Committees and boards and Councils, became, as at the stroke of a wand,
huge training camps of young, keen, healthy if pale-cheeked Britons in
ill-fitting gingerbread or mustard-coloured clothes.  How groups of
unoccupied London houses, or large vacant stores, or the head-centres of
the Y.M.C.A. in various districts, would suddenly overflow with bronzed
and sturdy warriors of the Regular Forces, and as suddenly empty again.
The platforms of railway termini, closely guarded and barred from the
public, would be dotted with neat stacks of Lee Enfield rifles, while
regularly-breathing sleepers in khaki pillowed on their packs, shielded
by the peaks of their tilted caps from the blue-white electric glare, or
the yellow dazzle of the morning sun.  A whistle—a snort and clank of
two big locomotives—and the platforms under the reverberating glass
roofs would be empty again, under the dusty yellow sunshine, or the
blue-white electric glare.

Remember all this to the daily accompaniment of those huge shrieking
headlines, the trotting of innumerable iron-shod hoofs, the ceaseless
rolling of iron-shod wheels, the clatter and vibration of huge
motor-lorries, vans, and waggons commandeered for the use of the
Auxiliary Transport (brilliantly painted in thousands of instances, and
proclaiming in foot-long capitals the virtues of Crump’s Curative
Saline, or Bango’s Extract of Beef), mingled with the steady tramp of
marching men, all through the days and nights.  By night you lay and
listened to these sounds, mingled with the bleating of flocks of sheep,
and the bellowing of herds of cattle, until the hoofs and wheels and
marching boots mingled into the roar of one great ink-black, awful
River, whose ice-cold woe-waters—sprung from some mysterious
source—swept through our villages and towns and cities, carrying with
them millions of lives, brute and human, towards the blood-red dawn of

                             *CHAPTER LIII*

                      *FRANKY GOES TO THE FRONT!*

With the First Infantry Brigade of the First British Expeditionary Force
went the First Battalion of the Bearskins Plain.

Exchanging with Ackroyd, "too sick a man for fighting" (who parted with
several superfluous inches of appendix and convalesced in time to go out
with the Second Battalion and meet a glorious end at Ypres), Franky was
swallowed up in the vortex of Aldershot.  000, Cadogan Place saw him but
once more before the roaring flood whirled him away, like a slim brown
autumn leaf, to the Unknown.

His gift to Margot on the night of their parting was a silver elephant
of truculent aspect, having ruby eyes and mother-o’-pearl tusks and a
howdah on its back, accommodating a "Gladsome Days" pull-off kalendar.

"You’re such nuts on mascots and gadgets, best childie, I thought I’d
get you this beggar for a keepsake.  Saw it in a shop in Bond Street.
It goes like so!"—Franky demonstrated by sticking a penknife-blade under
the liberal whack of leaves that had become obsolete since the First of
January.  "Rather a neat notion.  Something appropriate for every day o’
the week," he continued, indicating a rhymed distich appearing beneath
the current date.  This, the first of many utterances on the part of the
Silver Elephant, ranging from the idiotically inappropriate to the
appositely malign, ran as follows:

    "_Be very kind to Pussy-cat_
      _And handle her with care:_
    _You would not pull her by the tail_
      _If her claws grew out of there!_"

"Well, if that’s the best this beast can do—" began Margot, sternly
surveying the proboscidean.  Then she softened, meeting Franky’s
disappointed eyes, and said it was a lovely present and she would always
keep it on the table by her bedside.  She and Franky were almost lovers
again for the brief time that yet remained to them.  She even endured
without open resentment his continual references to the child.

"Take care of you both for my sake, won’t you, Kittums? Of course, long
before Christmas I hope to be back with you! But"—he tenderly crushed
the little figure to him as he sat on the bedside holding it
embraced—"but if by any old chance I get sent in—remember what kind of
man I’d like my boy to be.  Sanguine, ain’t I?—on the point of his being
a boy—putting a pink geranium in the front window before the house is
built, but still——"

He laughed awkwardly, and brushed off a shining drop of moisture that
splashed on the slender brown leather strap that marks the officer’s
caste.  A third star showed on his khaki sleeve, but he had made no
reference to it, and Kittums omitted to ask what it meant.  He kissed
her gravely on the eyes and lips and forehead, unwound the slender arms
that clasped his neck, and gently laid her back upon the pillows.  Then
with: "Good-night and God bless you!" he went quietly out of the room.
The hall-door shut and a servant put the chain up, and the waiting car
slid away to the Tower.  For "I’m to kip down at the old shop for
to-night," Franky had explained, "and shepherd five hundred strengthy
foot-sloggers—fat as prize bullocks every one of ’em!—to Nowhere in
Particular in the morning."

Margot cried a little when the hall-door shut, and then fell soundly
asleep among her big pillows.  Waking as a ray of five o’clock sunshine
penetrated between the blue-green silk blinds and the lacy curtains, to
realise that Something had gone out of her life.

Something wilful, petulant Kittums had not valued until the hall-door
had shut behind it.  Something that—crawling, shuddering thought!—might
never return.  She sat up in bed, hugging her knees and staring into a
Future without any Franky in it, a tragic little picture against the
background of the big frilled pillows, her great dark eyes wide and wild
under her tumbled gold brown hair-waves, her paleness enhanced by the
rose-silk night-sheath, a maelstrom of thought, emotions, apprehensions,
terrors, whirling in the humming-bird brain.

The ray of sunshine presently touched the face of the electric clock and
elicited a malicious twinkle from the ruby eyes of the Silver Elephant.
Remembering her promise, Kittums put out a hand, pulled off the
paper-slip bearing the date of the previous day and read:

                         "_May All Your Hours_
                         _Be Bright As This!_"

                             *CHAPTER LIV*

                          *OFFICIAL RETICENCE*

The First British Expeditionary Force was in France. Thus much after
considerable delay was vouchsafed us. Some studiously unenlightening
Field post-cards, some industriously Censored private letters, some
Press narratives and photographs were permitted us, of Highlanders,
Guards, Scots Greys, Middlesex, Worcestershires, Gordons, and others,
brought in upon the midnight tide and debarking from huge transports at
Boulogne and Havre and Rouen, under burning blue skies and a sizzling
sun.  The illustrated weeklies and the cinematograph showed them, with
battery after battery of R.F.A. and R.H.A. and R.G.A., Ammunition parks
and columns, and Engineers with pontoons on motor-waggons, and Field
Ambulance units, endlessly streaming into or out of the canvas cities
erected on the sites of the old Napoleonic camps.  Showed also Comic
Relief, in the familiar form of British Tommy, grinningly appreciative
of the welcome accorded him by command of the French Republic; meekly
submitting to be plucked bare of buttons and badges, by sirens who
sought these with offerings of chocolate, wine, and fruit.  This meagre
pabulum we champed, possessing our souls perforce, in patience; sitting
before the great iron curtain of official reticence that had glided down
into its grooves as though it never meant to go up again.

Then, with the whiffling swoop of the Jabberwock—the Food Scare was upon
us.  Letters showered from venerable maiden aunts in remote country
districts, describing economies practised by our great-grandmothers in
1801 and 1814.  Hot-eyed friends buttonholed one and whispered of Famine
that was coming, and pressed crumpled pamphlets, dealing with Food
Values, into one’s unwilling hand.  The Specie Scare came next, rousing
the most phlegmatic to frenzied indignation.  What!  In lieu of the
smooth plump British sovereign and half-sovereign welcomed in every
corner of the civilised world, must we perforce accept the "magpie," or
One Pound note, and the "pinky" or ten-shilling bill!

People frothed and vituperated.  We were all frothing, what time the
stocky Kalmuck-faced von Kluck with 130,000 Germans of the Kaiser’s
First Army came rolling down in overwhelming force upon the First and
Second British Army Corps.  Eighty thousand men of our blood holding the
line of the canal from Condé to "a place called Mons" with, as the
flanking angle, another place called Binche.

The 5th French Army was in full retreat from Namur and Charleroi; borne
back by the resistless pressure of von Buelow, Chief of the Second Army
of Attila, 250,000 strong. The 4th French Army was retiring before von
Hahsen and a third tidal wave of armed Germanity—humping its huge snaky
columns after the fashion of the looper caterpillar—along the menaced
line of the Meuse.

The Krupp and Skoda motor-howitzers that had crushed Belgian fortresses
like eggshells were coming into position; the circling enemy aëroplanes
were directing with smoke-rockets the uncannily excellent shooting of
the German Artillery.  We who thought we had no more than a couple of
Army Corps in front of us, and possibly a Division of Cavalry, were
beginning to realise the ugly truth.  As the frightful blizzard of iron
and flame broke upon the British batteries, and the shallow trenches
made in desperate haste and crowded with the flower of the British Army,
began to lose the shape of trenches, to melt—to become mere scratches in
the earth, littered with human scrap....

We did not suspect, we never dreamed of grave disaster to our Forces,
though some of us were strangely haunted by well-loved looks and dear
familiar touches before the Iron Curtain of official silence lifted that
quarter-inch and the thick red stuff oozed slowly underneath.

An hour or two before the Great Awakening, Margot had ’phoned asking
Patrine to come round.  Arriving, her friend found Kittums sorely
exercised in spirit.  The housekeeper, in tears, had sought an interview
on the Food Question and entreated her lady to lose no time in
provisioning the domestic citadel with Flour, Sugar, Bacon, Tea, Coffee,
Potatoes, Cereals, and tinned meats against the approaching days of
famine.  She begged to submit a List. It would be well to lose no time
for all the Banks were breaking.  She felt it her duty to mention the

"And so I told Wallop to dry her poor old eyes," explained Kittums, "and
I’d go and buy up the Army and Navy Stores as soon as I’d had a look in
at what Franky calls the Dross House, just to ask the Manager, as man to
man, if there’s any chance of the Bank going biff?  Your adorable
Lynette and your Uncle Owen may say that hoarding things to eat isn’t
playing the game and all that.  Well! When you’re too sharp-set to think
Imperially, come round here and I’ll grub the lot.  How is your Flying

"Doing some Army Coaching.  Out Farnborough way," said Patrine.  "I’ve
not set eyes on him twice since that Club lunch."

"When Franky cottoned to him so," said Margot. "You’ve not had a

"God forbid!"

"Engaged people always squabble."

"Alan and I don’t," asserted Patrine.

The car came round and they drove to the Bank.  Most Banks had enjoyed a
Run and a few had experienced the combination of a Run with a Panic.
There had been a severe Run on Margot’s bank.  Now it was over and a
huge majority among the people who formed queues at the doors and
crowded the counters were paying in the deposits they had nervously
withdrawn.  Relieved in mind, Kittums cashed a cheque of magnitude, and
the respectable Williams turned the car in the direction of the Stores.

On this Day of the Great Awakening, Woman stormed the departments.
Kittums and Patrine plunged into the scrum, to emerge after having
achieved a modified success. Lady Norwater’s explanation, that she
required provisions in wholesale bulk because of a yachting-trip she
meditated, had been hit upon by several thousands of other
terminological inexactitudinarians.  The mounds of bacon, the castled
tins of tea and coffee, the sacks of sugar, rice, and cereals, the
raisins, currants, and tinned comestibles—had been nearly all picked up
by these knowing early risers.  Still enough had been secured to relieve
the mind of Mrs. Wallop, and scare the wolf from the threshold of 00,
Cadogan Place.

"Beg pardon, m’ lady."  The sedate face of the respectable Williams
looked over the last Brobdingnagian parcel transferred to his embrace.
"I think if your ladyship ’as no objection it would be better to close
the car."

"If it will close," began Margot, looking with interested speculation at
the mountainous accumulation of bulky, whitey-brown string-tied bags and
packages upon the front seat.

"FOOD ’OGS!" bellowed a man in a rusty bowler hat and soiled shirt
sleeves, so suddenly and powerfully that Kittums jumped.

"Garn ’ome!" vindictively shrieked a fiery-faced female. "Greedy-guts!
Yah!  Git along ’ome!"

"FOOD ’OGS!" reiterated the Stentor in shirt sleeves, backed by an
approving murmur from a crowd of dingily-clad men and women gathered
upon the pavement right and left of the imposing entrance to the Stores.

"Now then, move on ’ere!" came from a policeman, and the crowd began to
dissolve, with lowering glances. Motorcars were moving away, carrying
their owners embedded in groceries.  Others were driving up to the door.

"Move on, please!" repeated the Man in Blue.

"Not till I’ve got rid of these things.  Call the Commissionaire.  Tell
him my name and number!—say the orders were given by mistake! ..."
Margot went on, when the Alpine range of parcels had melted away under
the combined efforts of chauffeur and Commissionaire: "Poor old Wallop
will wail, but I’ve purged myself of the contempt of being a Food Hog.
Great Snipe! to think of deserving to be called such an awful name.  It
made me feel all of seventeen stone, with a row of chins like
saddle-bags!"  She pinched her own dainty chin between a tiny finger and
thumb. "Still, I’ve enjoyed the scrum," she went on, as the car slid
towards Piccadilly.  "It’s bucked me splendidly!  I shall know what to
do now, when I want to lay my ghosts. You know one of them"—the little
fingers twitched in Patrine’s—"what’s coming in November.  The other
started haunting me only a few days back."  All the new-won colour had
died out of the small oval face and the great dark eyes were tragic in
their terror.  "You’re too good a pal to laugh.  Well, then—I’ll own up.
Franky’s my latest ghost of all!"

"But you have heard?  You have had letters?"

The answer was strangled between a laugh and a sob.

"Letters.  Three post-cards from Somewhere in France and a queer epistle
all squares of blacking.  Not much between—except that he is tophole and
coming Home at Christmas and sends love to us both!  That’s Franky’s
way.  He always talks as—"  A shudder went through the little figure,
and shadows were about the great wild eyes, and the pale lips quivered:

"Poor little Kittums!" said Patrine’s big warm baritone. She slipped an
arm tenderly about the little thing.  Who could have dreamed that
Kittums could care so about Franky—or any other man.  "Are you worrying
so badly, my dinkie?" she went on, soothingly: "Try not.  It isn’t

"I’m not worrying," came the weary answer.  "I’m being haunted—that’s
all.  Day and night since it started, his hands are on me and his eyes
are looking at me.  When I sleep, I’m wandering through desolate places
looking, always looking for him!  And thousands of other selfish, silly
women are being haunted in the same way.  Oh, Pat, be always kind when
you’re married to your Flying Man!"

"_When!_"—Patrine echoed.  But what of sorrow or doubt her tone conveyed
was lost upon Margot.  She had told her own grief, and the telling had
relieved her.  Like the child with the kissed bruise, she could prattle
of other things.  She was twittering and chirping in the gay little
voice Franky knew so well, as Williams, the respectable, turned smoothly
into Short Street.  There was a dense block at the corner by the
Aldebaran Hotel, and amidst the swishing of the motor-engines and the
fidgeting of plump carriage-horses, loathful of the sudden release of
the pungent exhaust from escape-valves under their noses—a little piece
of dialogue between two Cyprians on the near sidewalk drove home to both
the occupants of the car.

One Cyprian was well-to-do, past thirty-five and expensively caparisoned
for conquest, from the tall feather topping her stove-pipe hat and her
burnished wig of Angora goat-hair, to her silk stockings of
liberally-open pattern and the tips of her high-heeled, buckled shoes.
Her hard eyes under their painted brows took critical stock of the
other, younger woman, whose make-up could not hide ill-health, and whose
flaunting fineries were the worse for wear.

Said Hard Eyes, indicating with a jerk of her powdered double chin, a
procession moving down Piccadilly Circus-wards—a publisher’s catchpenny
advertisement of "WEEP NO MORE, MOTHERS!" ingenious in its employment of
robust-looking matrons as bearers of the sandwich-boards plastered with
posters of rose-colour and gold:

"You could give some of the swell West End ladies a tip or two, I
reckon, Lallie, about that Purple Dreams dope?"

"Honest to God, I could!  But I wouldn’t!"  The haggard eyes leapt
viciously out of their languor.  "Let ’em run up against it—same as me!
Me that went all the way to Brussels to get the new treatment.  Great
Scott! When I came to I was black and blue and green all over. And my
face!  It was a fair scream!"  She threw an appraising side-glance in a
shop window.  "No!  My skin’ll never be what it used, I reckon."

"But the"—the hard eyes between the elder woman’s blued lids were
hideously significant—"the Trouble, eh?"

"The Trouble"—Lallie’s still girlish shoulders shrugged.—"Oh, that’s all
right!  I heard no more of it!  There’s the one comfort.  Good-bye,
ducky.  I got to meet somebody at the Cri."

"Well, better luck!"  And as the block broke and the car moved on, the
women nodded and parted.  Margot and her friend Patrine did not look at
each other as the car stopped before the Club.

A glance showed the vestibule crowded, the second pair of swing-doors
thudded momentarily as members and their guests passed on into the Club
rooms, without relieving the congestion that fresh arrivals renewed.
Some doors above, a piano-organ in charge of two men was jolting out the
last bars of the Russian National Anthem.  One of the men,
olive-skinned, grey-haired, and dressed in threadbare black, sang the
words with perfunctory fervour in a cracked tenor voice.  As the last
chord banged out and the organist jerked the changing-lever over, and
the Marseillaise summoned jangling echoes of its lyrical frenzy from the
pavement and the surrounding walls, Patrine, meeting Sherbrand’s eyes
over the crowded heads of people, knew a sudden shock of apprehension in
the strangeness of their regard.

For day and night since that strange, impulsive visit she had made to
the Confessional—"You must tell him.  It is your duty to tell him!" had
sounded in her ears.  She set her teeth and determined that she would
never tell him, none the less knowing that the revelation would be made.
A Power infinitely stronger than her woman’s will was bearing upon it.
Her treasure was in peril, her fairy-gold at any moment might turn to
withered leaves at a breath from her own mouth.

                              *CHAPTER LV*

                            *NEWS OF BAWNE*

"Pat!—what luck!"

Sherbrand was standing before her, tall and lean and masterful, saluting
her with the touch of three fingers to a soldierly forage-cap with three
buttons, set jauntily atilt on the broad tanned brow.

Ah! the delight of seeing the cold grey glance warm into sea-blue, the
lean, eagle-face flash into smiles.  For a little while yet he was hers,
she told herself, as the hard hand gripped on hers that answered the
swift fierce pressure, and her blood that the sickly chill of fear had
stagnated, whirled on its crimson circle singing for joy.  And then—a
second glance, sweeping from the top to the toes of the tall manly
figure, stopped the song.

"Alan!  You—in khaki!"

"I suppose so," he said a little clumsily, echoing thousands of other
men.  "It’s the universal wear just now, isn’t it?  We fellows must make
good while we can—and we’re all of us joining.  Even Macrombie—you can’t
have forgotten Macrombie—has got his rating, and is acting a P.O.T. on a
Destroyer in the North Sea."

Do you see the dour drunkard standing up, under the eye of the smart
young inspecting Fleet Surgeon, naked save for the leather bootlace that
held a battered silver locket round his harsh and swarthy scrag.

"Your age? ..."

"Ye micht ca’ me forty," said the subject, with caution.

"I might, but I’d be a liar!" said the Fleet Surgeon, "so try again, my

"Ye micht pit twa to the forr-ty," came rumbling from the hairy chest.

"And tack eight on to that," thus the Fleet Surgeon, tucking the hooked
ends of the stethoscope into his ears, and deftly applying the
microphone.  "And then I’d be wide of the actual!  Breathe deeply, will
you!"  The effort provoked a volley of coughs sounding like half-bricks
pitched against the sides of an empty cistern and the Fleet Surgeon
shook his head.

"_Hough—hough—hough!_—why didna’ ye—hough! lat weel alane?" gasped
Macrombie, with eyes blazing hell-fire through the moisture engendered
by the cough.  "Dinna ye ken I’ll never no’ be wanting to breathe deeply
whaur ye’re needing to send me?  There is nae room whatever for
lung-play oot o’ the ordinar’," he added scornfully, "aboard ane o’ thae
kittle, cranky, tinpot Destroyers!"

"Hold out your hand!" commanded the arbiter of Destinies. He
contemplated the extended member, wavering and fluttering like the
indicator-needle on the dial of an atmospheric pressure-gauge.  "Pretty
wobbly, what?" he commented to the owner with the sarcastic inflection
that advertised a keen advocate of Temperance.

"Man, O! man!" broke from Macrombie in a harsh rattling whisper,
desperate appeal flashing in his burnt-out eyes, "you that are young
enough to be my son, tak’ me or leave me, ane or the tither—but shame me
nae mair!"

Telegraphists were sorely needed, so Macrombie of the racking hoast and
the shaky hand was passed as fit for Service, and duty rated as Petty
Officer Telegraphist aboard one of the contemned tin-pots.

The Crown and winged double-thunderbolt must have nerved the arm they
came back to.  For, on the day of the Battle of Jutland, when a
point-blank salvo from an enemy cruiser wrecked the bridge and
searchlight platform, carrying away the forward mast and funnel of
Macrombie’s particular tin-pot, and men in respirators were fighting the
smothering fumes of the fire caused by German shells of the incendiary
description, a dour, stark man whose clothes were alight and burning on
him, stuck grimly to his post among the wreckage of the shattered
Wireless room, sending out the message last dictated by the officer who
lay dead across the blistering steel plating—for the short circuit set
up by the smashed searchlight had created its own separate
conflagration, and the electricity was "running out of everything like

When the tin-pot heeled over, and, having duly buried her steel chest
and secret documents, went down with colours flying in a smother of oily
steam, men who were saved on the rafts told this tale of Macrombie, who
sleeps well, after Life’s thirsty fever, at his post in the Destroyer’s
battered Wireless cabin, on the deep-ridged, sandy bottom of the wild,
shallow North Sea.

Patrine felt her heart crushed as in the grip of a cold steel gauntlet.
Her apprehensions had not been unfounded. She and Alan were to be
parted, if not as she had feared.

"I—suppose I ought to congratulate you—"  Her unwilling eyes admired the
tall manly figure in the plain workmanlike uniform.  The buttonless
tunic with its Lancer plastron, the riding-breeches of ampler cut than
the cavalryman’s, the high spurless boots of supple brown leather, and
the belt that carried a revolver and no sword. "What—what are you in?"
she asked draggingly, and he answered with a smile and a flash of his
grey eyes:

"I hope I’m in for some of what’s going on!"

"How glad you are!"

"Rather.  I should think so!  Now that they’ve let me into the Royal
Flying Corps as a T.S.L.  Look at my wings!"  He touched the white
outspread pinions on the tunic-breast with a reverent finger-tip and
went on pouring out his story without a break.  "It’s cost me some
badgering of High Officials of Military Aëronautics at Whitehall, and a
lot of time wasted in baby tests.  Squad drill, Harris tube,
bomb-dropping, air-signalling, Webley and Scott practice, and so on.
Now I’m teaching trick-flying to Army aviators from 4.30 A.M. till 11
P.M.  The Powers that Be have taken over the Flying Schools—Durrant’s
Café is our Officer’s Mess now.  You should see old Durrant in his glory
as Head Waiter.  And Mrs. D—"  His white teeth flashed as he laughed.

"And they have known of this"—she nodded at the eagle-wings—"while I
have been kept in ignorance!  How long?"

"Not quite a fortnight.  Don’t be unreasonable, dear!"

The new tone stung.  Did a yellow star upon the cuffs and
shoulder-straps and a pair of white wings on the left breast mean so
much to him that her just claims upon his confidence seemed wanting in
reason now?  Anger and resentment choked her as he added:

"I am here now, as it happens, because I’m crossing the Channel
to-morrow at peep o’ day."  Something in her pale face made him add:
"Don’t worry!—I’m likely to be back again by nightfall.  That’s what
I’ve rushed in here to tell you, though I’ve a man in tow, a Wing
Commander of the French S. Aë.  Hot from the Front and just landed at
Hendon.  I had to take him in my car to his Embassy, and now I’ve got to
find him a room at an hotel.  When I’ve done it I’m coming back here to
talk to you.  Where on earth has my man got to?  Why, there he is,
talking to Lady Norwater.  The little chap with the grey moustache and
the gold-banded _képi_."

"I am honoured by Madame’s gracious remembrance," the person indicated
could be heard protesting, during an instant’s lull in the Babel of
voices round.  "But my own—a thousand pardons! is less accurate."

"Oh!"  Margot expostulated, "but you can’t have forgotten.  That Sunday
of the Grande Semaine—when you were in the Bois, timing a Flying Officer
who was testing an English invention—a sort of a——"

"But assuredly, Madame!"  His quick nod and the gesture of his gloved
hand summoned up the scene vividly. "I remember, but perfectly, though
much water has rolled under the bridges since that day.  And
Milord—Madame’s husband?"

"He’s at the Front," Margot explained, "wherever the Front is!"

"Unfortunately at the moment," returned the suave voice, "the Front is
everywhere.  It is easy to find without binoculars.  _Adieu, Madame_.
_Merci bien de la souvenir si gracieuse, dites mes amitiés à Monsieur._"
And in another moment he arrived beside Sherbrand, exclaiming with his
vivacious shrug and gesture: "My faith, my friend, your London _Cercle
des Dames_ is a veritable Paradise of Mahommed.  Now in Paris, at least
before the War—instead of ten thousand houris to every true Believer,
one counted at least three Adams to every Eve.  But I observe your
search has been successful.  Will you not present me to Mademoiselle
your _fiancée_?"

And the dapper middle-aged Wing Commander in the gold-banded _képi_,
whose dark plain uniform displayed the gold badge of the Service
Aëronautique under the Cross of the Legion of Honour, was introduced as
Captain Raymond by an off-hand young Briton who comprehended not in the
least the immense condescension that had prompted the request.

"_Sapristi!_" thought Raymond, as Patrine gave him her large hand and
assured him in her big warm voice that she was frightfully pleased to
meet a friend of Alan’s.—"A magnificent type of the human female animal
to have paired with this bluff, simple English boy.  Part _femme du
monde_, part romping hoyden, part _cabotine_, she should have been a
Duchesse of the old Napoleonic regime, or at least the effect that lies
behind a _cause célèbre_ of the Paris Law Courts of modern days.  And
she will be expected by this honest fellow to live in a stucco villa at
Kensington or the Crystal Palace, and bear and rear his children, and
live and die in all the deadly respectability of the British
middle-class _milieu_!"

But he made his beautiful bow and murmured some civil phrases.  In the
spring, at the Hendon Flying Grounds of M. Fanshaw, he, Raymond, had
been interested to meet the friend of Mademoiselle.  Had been profoundly
impressed by the displayed inventions of a young man so gifted as
aviator and engineer.  Had had the good fortune subsequently to obtain
the consent of his own Chiefs of the S. Aë. F. to a test of an
invention—the value of which had been hall-marked by the approbation of
Messieurs les Allemands.  True, M. Sherbrand had been the victim of
their unscrupulosity.  But Fortune, who knew? might be kinder in the
near future.  This War so grievous, so brutal, so deplorable, waged by
the Prussian against Civilisation and Progress, would open up not only
_le métier des armes_, but countless other avenues of prosperity to
thousands of ardent and gifted young men.  Like M. Sherbrand.  To whom
Raymond said with an authoritative glance of his blue eye: "My friend,
we keep your auto waiting at the door!"

"Ah, but stay!" Patrine began, with a sense of hatred towards the
well-used little Ford runabout standing in much grander company by the
kerb outside the Club: "do stay and lunch and smoke and tell us things
about the War, won’t you?"

"A thousand thanks, but impossible, Mademoiselle!"

Raymond shrugged, conscious that her look of disappointment was for
Sherbrand, and pleaded fatigue as an excuse.

"For these are iron times, Mademoiselle," he went on in his smooth,
musical accents, "and we who live in them are unfortunately of flesh and
blood.  When the War is done perhaps there will again be social
pleasures like the lunch you were so kind as to offer me.  That I am
tempted to accept I will not conceal from you.  I have not eaten since I
flew from France at _la pointe du jour_—one of the smallest of the
little hours of this morning, and then I broke fast on two fingers of
little red wine, and a hunch of soldier’s bread."

"You mean to say you’re fresh from flying the Channel?"

"Crossing the Channel came near the end of my journey, Mademoiselle.  I
should have arrived earlier"—he shrugged indifferently—"had not some
German aviators caused delay."

"Oh-h!"  Her vexation passed like a breath from a mirror.  Her long eyes
danced with delight under her hat-brim.  Her breath came quick, her red
lips curled, and a sweet faint pink showed under her creamy skin.
"You’re a knight of the skies hot from a fray with two flying
dragons—and you were going without saying a word!  What do you think we
Englishwomen are made of?"

"Very desirable flesh, some of you, at least, Mademoiselle," occurred to
Raymond, but he suppressed the equivoque and answered with professional

"Mademoiselle, I regret there is but little to tell you. The enemy
possesses an aërial organisation of great effectiveness which is being
chiefly employed in the killing of harmless civilians and the
destruction of unfortified towns.  But small success has hitherto
attended his efforts in the Channel.  Your British Expedition was
conveyed across the water without the loss of one _piou-piou_, or any
damage received by the explosion of a German bomb.  As for the German
aviators of whom I speak, their attitude towards myself and my pilot was
modest.  Flying their double-seated military Taubes, of which the wings
and tail resemble those of the dove after which they have been named,
they pursued our biplane half-way from Calais to Dover before deciding
to attack."

"Then—"  She hesitated, softly clapping her palms together and dimpling
like a big child over the telling of a new fairy tale.

"Then one climbed, possessing the advantage of a powerful engine, and
dropped a bomb from a height of some 600 _mètres_ which exploded without
hitting us and went to the bottom of the sea.  While the second aviator,
who was armed with a repeating-carbine, wounded my pilot so severely
that it was only by a miracle of endurance he preserved consciousness
long enough to land without a crash. So I left him at Dover and—with a
pilot mechanic from the Air Station, completed my passage, descending at
Brooklands at twelve _demie_."

"Was your pilot hurt very badly?  Will he be able to fly back to

"Mademoiselle, being a pious Catholic, he has already flown to Heaven."

"He is dead....  And you can joke!" Patrine reproached him.  His face
was very wrinkled as he smiled.

"Mademoiselle, if a soldier could not jest at Death upon occasion, Life
for a soldier would be impossible!  Of verity, the loss of a good
pilot-_aviateur_ is not a thing to joke about, but fortunately I have
your friend to fill his place."

"_Alan_!  You must not—I will never consent to it!"

All taken aback, her colour banished, she fixed Sherbrand with blazing
imperative eyes.  He reddened to the hair and his mouth shut firmly.
For the first time there was a clash of wills between the pair.

"Alan, why didn’t you ask me?"

He was redder than ever.

"Because it wasn’t for you to say.  It is an order from my Chiefs—don’t
you understand?"

She did not care that the French officer was smiling. She would have
liked to have struck him in his merrily-crinkled face.  Wretch! to have
blurted the truth at her that Alan had hidden.  What was he saying:

"Permit, Mademoiselle, that I make my _adieux_.  I go to secure an
apartment where I may repose myself."  He looked at Sherbrand, saying in
his cool tone of authority: "The Aldebaran,—that is in the next street
and a good hotel, is it not so?  A little sleep will not come amiss
after a cutlet and a _demi-bouteille_.  And whilst I eat we will settle
our _affaires_.  Eh, mon lieutenant?"

His gloved hand took Sherbrand neatly by the elbow. He was skilfully
steering him towards the doorway when Patrine, white and flaming, placed
herself in their path.

"My affairs come first!" she was beginning.

"_Shut up!_" came from Sherbrand, in an exasperated aside whisper.  "My
duty comes before you—or anything in the world.  It should come first
for you if you cared a damn for me!"

No one but Raymond had overheard the curious, fierce colloquy.  She felt
literally scorched by the hot look of anger.  She knew an agony like the
tearing of the tissues of the flesh when Sherbrand passed her and went
out with that gloved hand of authority upon his arm.

"Women are the devil!" he thought bitterly, as he opened the door of the
runabout Ford to admit the French Staff Officer.  "She’d had a shock in
being told the news so suddenly; but to ballyrag me—to make me look such
a thundering idiot before _him_!"

He swung the crank with violence and wrenched angrily at the levers when
he took the driving-seat.  A gloved hand patted his arm, and Raymond’s
voice said in his ear:

"Bah!  You are chagrined, my friend, because a handsome woman has made
you a little drama.  Think no more of it!  I have forgotten, for my
part."  He added, as they got out at the Aldebaran: "I propose to detain
you but a little while, _mon ami_.  When we have completed arrangements
for the start to-morrow, you will be free to return and make your peace
with Mademoiselle."

"Thank you, sir.  She was rattled at my telling her so suddenly about my
Commission," said Sherbrand, still beclouded.  "Women are all like that,
I suppose?"

"Except in France," said the agreeable voice of Raymond, "where the love
of Country is stronger in our women than the love of lover or even of
child.  It was so before 1870.  They have remembered through the
centuries, as their sisters of Britain have not.  They—the women of
England are patriotic—oh yes! but patriotism is not yet a religion to
them.  It will cost millions of lives, and of blood an ocean to kindle
that flame within their souls.  Then, they also will hold the bayonet to
the grindstone with their soft white hands and say: ’Become sharp, to
drink the blood of Germans!’  And they will mend the soldier’s ragged
breeches and clean the soldier’s dirty rifle, and when they do they will
not be less womanly.  No, by my faith! nor less beloved by men.  Try one
of these.  You will not find them too bad."

He offered Sherbrand a cigarette and took a light from him as they stood
under the Aldebaran’s tall Corinthian portico.

"One should always be accurate.  When I told you that in France there
lived no woman who was not patriotic, I was in error.  Such a woman
existed since three or four days."

He blew out a puff of smoke and watched its mounting spiral.  Then he

"She was very young, very pretty, the bride of a month, and passionately
enamoured.  When her husband received orders to proceed with his
Regiment of Chasseurs to the Belgian Front, she made him a scene of
desperation.  She would do this and that mad thing if he did not take
her. Then she became calmer.  She had exacted a promise from her doting
cavalryman.  She should visit him at the Front at a suitable
opportunity.  She chose her own moment, my faith!—and what a moment!
She appeared in her husband’s quarters in the French cavalry camp near
Antoineville when the Germans were attacking Dinant.  When the Cavalry
Division of the Prussian Guards, and the Cavalry of their First
Division, with some infantry battalions and machine-gun companies
crossed the Meuse, and we were to attack, she was lying in his arms, the
little idiot!  He told her to go and she would not.  Then he entreated
her—a fatal error that!"

The cigarette was burning crookedly, forgotten between Raymond’s

"Then he commanded her.  She laughed, and kissed him.  He gave back the
kiss, drew his revolver and shot her dead.  Then he ran out—in time to
mount and wheel to his place as second in command of his squadron,
before the Regiment swept on to the charge.  Fate was kind to him. He
charged like a Centaur, and died like a soldier of France the Beloved.
Tell the story to Mademoiselle Saxham. She is magnificently handsome,
but forgive me! not a patriot. And a woman without patriotism is—an
altar without a Sacred Host and a lamp without a flame."

They went into the hotel.  When the Frenchman had secured a quiet
bedroom on the fourth floor, and intimated that no German was to serve
him, they went together into the dining-room.

"_Pfui_!  It smells of soot, and petrol, and drainage, this London air
of yours," said Raymond, as he chose a table in a quiet corner.  "You
will eat with me?  No!  Then smoke and share my wine."  He ordered
cutlets, _petit pois_, a sweet omelette, and a bottle of Beaujolais,
and, filling his own glass and one for Sherbrand, touched brims gaily
and said with a smile: "To France and her Allies, Victory!  On earth," a
clink, "by sea," a clink, "under the sea," another clink, "and in the

He clinked three times, and emptied the glass thirstily. Sherbrand

"Was the battle near Dinant a big affair?"

"Not big."  He broke a roll and munched bread. "Not on the grand scale.
A _spectacle très intéressante_, regarded from the—archaic point of
view.  An example of the ancient _mode de bataille_ that will be dead as
the Dodo in three months.  _Chasseurs à cheval_ and German Imperial
Guard Regiments charging and meeting with shocks like thunder.  Much
slaughter.  So fierce was the onslaught upon our side that the Germans
were driven back across the Meuse.  Many missed the bridge and were
drowned.  One French regiment followed them in pursuit for several
_kilomètres_.  They were led by the man of whom I have told you.  A
glass to his memory—and _hers_!"

They touched full glasses and drank.  Raymond went on.

"My Flying Centre was near Maubeuge on the 16th. Some _escadrilles_ of
my command were engaged that day near Dinant.  My faith! those
_côtellettes_ are slow in arriving."  He munched more bread, and his
blue eyes narrowed smilingly.  "We had only the little bombs we used in
Morocco, but yes!—we did some good work with the _balles-bon_. Flying
low, at ordered distances—for to make War by Air successfully the
science of tactics must assist the aviator.... What says your great
Field Marshal, who has bent his neck to the collar-work of
Administration—who has conjured an Army of trained soldiers out of your
shops and counting-houses, and playing-fields,—and will make another and
another when the time comes?"

Sherbrand quoted the words uttered by the great voice now quenched for
ever in the bitter waters of the North Sea.

"_Until aviators learn to fly, manoeuvre, and attack in regular
formation, the Fifth Arm will remain a useless limb._"

"_Tonnerre de Dieu!_ but that goes to the point," said Raymond,
"straight and sharp as a thrust from his sword. If we possessed that man
we should make use of him.  He should be Marshal of France, or President
or Emperor—all we should ask of him would be to lead us.  _Notr’_ Joffre
would not be jealous—they would agree like the hilt and the hand.  But I
was telling you of an attack by the _fléchette_....  You may imagine how
the Uhlans loved that rain of steel.  It changed the retreat to a rout.
Only it spoiled so many German horses.  Right through the man, you
understand, into the animal! ... Sieves on four legs are useless as
Remounts for French Chasseurs."

"And the German Field Flight?" Sherbrand interrogated.

"Their Fifth Arm was represented," said Raymond, sipping his burgundy,
"by many Taubes and Aviatiks armed with the machine-gun and some
ordinary bombs of _schrapnel_,—also a dirigible of ’Parsifal’ type
dropping big bombs.  We were hampered in our offensive by a prejudice
which does not trouble the Germans.  To throw bombs upon friend and foe
alike—that is not our idea of War.  It annoyed me, and I wasted on that
flatulent brute of a ’Parsifal’ all my remaining _fléchettes_ and little
Morocco bombs.  Aha, the _côtelettes_!"

A waiter set them before him.  He tucked his napkin under his chin, and
helped himself, and said:

"Thus, though I had damaged her steering-gear and riddled her outer
envelope, and the Flying Pig wallowed in difficulties below me, I could
not pursue the advantage I had got.  When the pilot of an Aviatik
launched himself to the rescue, all the ammunition of my carabine was
exhausted. I had one cartridge left in my automatic revolver, and not a
single bomb with which to return the compliments of the German’s
_mitraille_.  My petrol-tank had been perforated. My single bullet
missed him.  The duel was too unequal, so I withdrew from the field,
leaving him to cavalier the Flying Pig.  We may meet again upon terms
more equal, when French military aviators fight with machine-guns. And
now to business.  It concerns your gyroscopic stabiliser, the patent of
which my Chiefs desired to buy for the use of our _Service
Aëronautique_.  You demanded, according to M. Jourdain’s statement,
£8,000 and a royalty for the world-patent.  We will buy it of you
outright for £12,000. Is it agreed?"

Sherbrand straightened in his chair, and said, looking the other
squarely in the eyes:

"No, sir, thank you!  You see, though the War Office wouldn’t have
anything to say to me——"

"It occurs to you that now you may find a market for your invention?"
_To the devil with this smug young British tradesman!_ thought Raymond
behind his knitted brows. "Come!" he said.  "Another proposal.  Will you
make and supply us with your hawk-hoverer?  Or sell us the right to
manufacture a thousand for the sole use of the S. Aë.? Name your price—I
shall not be frightened.  It is not State money, but my private fortune
that I draw upon—with the approval of my Chiefs.  It has been my whim to
lavish on my _escadrille_ what other men hang in jewels upon their
mistresses.  Efficiency is my vice.  I have heard of worse!"  He
scrawled some invisible figures with a polished finger-nail upon the
tablecloth and exclaimed, with a laugh and a shrug: "_Sapristi_!  At
even a hundred pounds apiece you would soon be a millionaire, even
without the fortune you expect from your War Office!  Upon occasion it
pays to be a patriot.  Decide, Monsieur, lest my patience run dry before
my purse!"

"I’ve not asked you a hundred, sir," Sherbrand said with his disarming
simplicity.  "I can make and sell the hoverers at a profit for £60.
It’s the cutting and welding of the horizontal flanged screws with the
acetylene flame that eats up that money.  But for the cost of the
process, hang it!—I’d have had more than seventy ready by me now."

"You have seventy, you say, laid by in readiness?"

"Laid by in grease," said Sherbrand, "at the aërodrome."

"Waiting the moment when the authorities at Whitehall awaken to the fact
that you are a genius, _mon ami_!  _À la bonne heure_!  We buy your
seventy equilibrisers!"

"I’ll sell you ten," said the British tradesman doggedly. "And I’ll give
the Belgian Government another ten, if you think they’d honour me by
accepting them?"

"_Parole d’honneur_!  I can guarantee they will.  And of the other

"They are for England to take or leave," said Sherbrand. "No doubt I’m
an ass, but a man must act according to his lights."

"They are stars, your lights," said Raymond with a crackling oath, "and
they point the path of Honour!"  He pulled a cheque-book and a
fountain-pen from a pocket within his tunic and wrote a cheque on the
Crédit Lyonnais for the price of the ten stabilisers, their packing,
carriage and duty, saying as he signed, and tossed the lilac slip of
paper across the tablecloth: "Your endorsement is my receipt.  For the
stabilisers—they must be sent not later than to-morrow.  I would give
something if I could fly back to France with a couple in my valise.  But
patience!  In a week at most we will give the Germans news of us.
Perhaps I shall have the good fortune of a _rencontre_ with my Boche
pilot-aviator.  For—listen, lieutenant!  He too possessed the device
that solves for the _avion_ the problem of stability.  And—listen
well!—he carried a young boy with him in the _nacelle_.  It was the man
who robbed you. Von Herrnung!  Could you not have guessed before?"

It seemed to Sherbrand that he had always guessed. Raymond went on:

"When I read of the finding of the wreck of your ’Bird’ in the North
Sea, I knew what _coup_ the Prussian and his confederates had carried
out.  We had met in Berlin, and at the Hanover aërodrome, and at Paris.
And—I could have shot him the other day if it had not been for the
child. The legions of the modern Attila employ women and babes as
bucklers and breastworks, by their Emperor’s order. Perhaps he carried
the boy for protection!"  His moustache bristled like an angry cat’s as
he added:

"A beastly idea, but the German Idea is bestial.  Well, _au ’voir_!
To-morrow, six _demie_, we start from the aërodrome!"

He rose, whisked his napkin over his mouth, and said, giving Sherbrand a
hearty hand-grip:

"I shall be punctual.  Do not forget.  My compliments to Mademoiselle!"

But Sherbrand was occupied less by thoughts of his angry love than by
Raymond’s story of the boy in the German warplane.  He telephoned to Sir
Roland and to Saxham before he drove back to the Club thinking:

"Bawne!—It must be Bawne!—out there in the midst of all those horrors.
If I could only meet that fellow von Herrnung! ... I’ve owed him no
grudge because he robbed me....  But—for this—I could kill him now!"

                             *CHAPTER LVI*

                            *LA BRABANÇONNE*

"You saint, Pat!"  Margot, amidst Raymond’s polite excuses, had
recognised Sherbrand’s hatchet-face under the khaki cap.  "You’ve stolen
a whole morning for me from your Flying Man.  Why didn’t you tell me
he’d come back to town?  How perfectly tophole he looks in tea-leaves!
Franky and I came across that French officer who was with him, last
June, in Paris.  We’re been rubbing noses on the strength of having met
before.  Is Alan going to the Front? My poor Pattums, it’ll be your turn
to be haunted.  Here’s Rhona Helvellyn.  Cheer, Rhona!  Do tell us why
you look so smudgy?  Have you been hiding up the chimney of the House of
Commons, or bombarding a Minister’s front door with coal?"

She beckoned, and Rhona came stalking through the crush of marvellously
got-up members, the round, fair, freckled boy-face that topped her long
swan-neck and deceptively sloping shoulders pinched with weariness under
the wreck of a Heath hat, her usually immaculate tailor-mades covered
with the dust of what might have been a Claxton Hall conflict or a
Downing Street Demonstration, and strange fires burning in her
light-lashed eyes.

"Am I such a sweep?  I feel one!  But so’d you be grubby if you’d done
the crossing from Folkestone to Ostend and back again to London without
a dab of a puff.  I’d an appointment here at three-thirty."  Beyond
anything in life Rhona plumed herself on her punctuality. "Mrs.
Saxham—_the_ Mrs. Saxham, had promised to meet me in the Chintz Room."
The Chintz Room is the first-floor drawing-room securable for private
teas and interviews.  "We got in too ravenous even to wash for lunch.
You should have seen us eat.  My hat! the scrum on those boats.  And the
dirt.  Nothing but a Turkish bath will get me clean again.  As for
Brenda, she’s a nigger."  Thus Rhona in her loud young accents.
"Nobody’d believe she’d been born a white girl!"

"Is she here?"

"My Christmas!  I should rather hope so!  Upstairs scraping off the
top-crust before I take her to Eccleston Square.  Don’t do to startle
the Mater.  She’s been frightfully off-colour with worry over her
precious youngest. You see, Brenda was due home for the Autumn holidays
from the Convent of the Dames de l’Annonciation at Huin on the Sambre,
when the War broke out.  And—Huin’s near Charleroi, where they say the
Germans are—and we’d nary a letter, and no answer to a hailstorm of
wires from the Mater.  So I got passes and permits on the Q.T. and
skipped over to Ostend—to see what might be done."

"And you got through?"

"Did I?  Not much!  We don’t get things properly rubbed into us—tucked
away in our blessed old island.  I forgot that Belgian trains wouldn’t
be running from Ostend to Brussels, now the Germans have got a grab on
there.... As for getting South-East by Courtrai and Valenciennes—all
trains were required by the Allies for military purposes. Perhaps if I’d
been a hefty War Correspondent or an Army Nursing Sister or a V.A.D. in
diamond earrings and a Red Cross armlet, I’d have had a chance.  But I’m
doubtful!  Transport officers, English and Belgian, keep their mouths
shut—and once they’ve opened them to say "No!" they never open ’em
again.  And"—Rhona breathed as though she had been running—"there were
Official War News placards stuck up at the Customs Office, and on the
quays and at the Préfecture.  They said that the Germans under von
Buelow have been having a scrap with the 5th French Army on the
Sambre—from Namur to Charleroi—and that the French have been beaten
back.  And the hospitals are crowded with Belgian and German
wounded"—she gulped and something twinkled on her pale eyelashes—"and
trains crammed with more keep coming in and in. I’ve seen some sights, I
tell you, that gave me horrors. That showed me, even more than those
Ostend quays and wharves and squares and Places—packed solid with
refugees—Great Christmas!—shall I ever forget ’em!—the devilish, hellish
work of War!"

"Refugees....  Common people?"  Margot was a little puzzled.  Rhona
nodded and repeated:

"Refugees.  Swells and mechanics, rag-pickers and shopkeepers, sweeps,
schoolgirls, lacemakers, and students. Professors, priests, and
prostitutes.  Madame la Comtesse and her gardener’s wife, wheeling the
babies in trams and go-carts.  Dust-covered, dirty, done up, desperate,
with faces that make you think of the damned in the Tartarus scenes of
Orpheus and Eurydice.  And someone squealed my name, and there was
Brenda.  Just got in, with three of the Sisters, and a baker’s dozen of
English pupils and a herd of other miserables, evacuated from Charleroi
and Huin. Three-and-a-half days on the journey, travelling by fits and
starts on branch-lines—tramping when trains weren’t available.  Eating
whenever anything was to be had, and going without when there wasn’t!
Sleeping in barns and on the floors of railway-station platforms, or
waiting-rooms, when they were lucky—such a pack of tramps you never saw
in your life.  But Great Scott! how thundering glad I was to get hold of
Brenda and whisk her away from that Chorus of the Damned in Orpheus,
pent up like cattle behind ropes, and moaning and stretching their arms
out to the sea!"

"Why on earth the sea?"

A foreign voice, resonant and rather nasal, startled Margot by

"Pardon, Madame.  Because these most unhappy fugitives believe that
salvation and safety may be found in England, from whence come those
strong brown English soldiers who are fighting in Belgium now."

"Are there—" Margot was beginning.  But Rhona was introducing the
speaker at length as Comte d’Asnay, Capitaine Commandant and Adjutant of
the Belgian General Staff, Attached to the General Staff on the Third
Division of the Belgian Army, and d’Asnay was saying with a smile:

"Mademoiselle bestows upon me all my titles, possibly because we
Belgians have so little else left."

"Except Honour," snapped Rhona.

"Except our Honour and our self-respect, and a few other non-negotiable
securities," he said, "that do not bring us much of credit on the
Bourses of Vienna and Berlin.  But Madame was asking of the refugees.
Many from Liége have escaped to Antwerp or into Holland, thousands are
rushing from Namur into the bosom of France.  But from Louvain and
Brussels and Tirlemont they flock to Ostend. The steamers of the Channel
service are crowded with those who have money and can obtain the
necessary _laissez-passers_. Your town of Folkestone is encumbered with
arrivals.  Were stones pillows there would be a head for every stone.
But those who have neither money nor passports—and many of these were
rich a week ago—remain, as Mademoiselle has told you, to weep, and
stretch their arms towards the sea."

"They’d rush the boats," declared Rhona, "only that the Companies keep
up the gangways.  I suppose," she grimaced, "the authorities at Ostend
don’t want a scare.  They believe—I hope they may get it!—there’ll yet
be an Autumn Season.  Hang these profit-hoggers!  If I’d my way I’d
lower every blessed gangway and let everyone who wanted walk on board.
If Belgium hadn’t faced the music there’d be Germans in England now,
murdering and burning....  They’ve a right to come.  Let ’em all come!
Britain’s big enough, I should hope!"

"_Brava, Mademoiselle.  Bis!_" d’Asnay applauded noiselessly. "That is
what you said to me on the deck of the steamer.  Say it again, say it
often, and the people will be let come!"

"Oh, I’ve my plan."  Rhona’s light eyes sparkled wickedly.  "People here
want waking up.  They’re kept in cotton-wool.  Eyes bunged up and ears
stuffed.  What they want is—to see and hear.  Well, a few of ’em are
doing it.  That," she nodded knowingly at d’Asnay, "is where my
Distinguished Visitors come in."

The lips under the fiercely-waxed moustaches smiled. Margot liked the
look of this officer of the Belgian General Staff, with the savage eyes
and the smooth olive skin, the pointed chestnut beard, fiercely-waxed
moustache, and the cool, polite manner.  He wore the uniform of the
Belgian Chasseurs à Cheval, and the vulture-plumes of his high shako
were cut and broken and scorched in places, the gold braiding of his
dark blue tunic was tarnished and weather-beaten, and the grey,
blue-striped overalls and spurred black knee-boots were rusty with old
mud and white with new dust.  "You’re from the Front?" she queried, as
she moved with Rhona and the Belgian towards the glass swing-doors,
giving access from the vestibule to the Club’s big ground-floor

He answered:

"There are several Fronts—and I have the honour to come from one of
them, Madame."

"With dispatches?"

"Possibly with dispatches, Madame!"  He answered with an amused
side-glance at the small, vivacious face. "Though there are swifter
methods of transmitting intelligence than by entrusting letters to a
messenger’s hands."

As he moved beside her, courteously replying, she saw the crimson and
green enamelled, purple-ribboned Cross of the Belgian Order of Leopold
shining upon the dark blue tunic-breast.

"How are—things—getting on?  Nobody tells us anything," twittered the
humming-bird.  "We might live at the North Pole."

"Madame might find even at the North Pole compensations for the low
temperature and the lack of society."  The vulture-plumes on the dark
blue shako nodded as he turned his face to her.  "In the fact that there
are no Boches there," he added, and the smile that had curved the
soldierly moustache vanished as though the word had wiped it from his

"Do tell me what are Boches?" Margot begged, kindling to interest.  He
answered with an intensity that dug deep lines at the angles of his
nostrils, and puckered the corners of the eyes that burned under his
frowning brows:

"They are a nation of beings, Madame, that are no longer men!"

"Germans you mean, don’t you?" she asked after a little pause of
bewilderment, staring with shocked, dilated eyes at the left side of
d’Asnay’s close-cropped head, now revealed to her as he removed his
shako, and standing a little in advance of the two women, held back with
the thrust of his broad shoulders a leaf of the drawing-room
swing-doors. The four-inch square of white surgical plaster adhering to
a place whence the chestnut-brown hair had been shaven, showed the
outline of a deep, jagged gash.  "You are hurt! You have had some awful
accident! ... Was it a motor-smash? Doesn’t it pain you?" Kittums asked
breathlessly. For d’Asnay had touched the surgical strapping with his
gloved hand, and his smiling face had winced.

"It is nothing, Madame," he assured her, "and it was not caused by an
accident.  It is merely a whiff of _schrapnel_—a love-gift from
_Messieurs les Boches_."

"You are _wounded_?"

"Madame, that is what one calls it, when one suffers _à coup d’obus_.
They are common, these little tokens, on our side of the North Sea.
Mine has procured me a visit to London, and the pleasure of meeting

She looked at him like a grieved child, and her lips so quivered that he
softened to her behind the crinkles of his smiling bearded mask.

"You speak like this because you think I am heartless and indifferent.
Perhaps I have been—until to-day!  We are so far from things.  We see
nothing.  And we hear so little about the War!"

"Alas, Madame!" came the answer.  "Forgive the cruel prophecy, that the
moment approaches when you will hear too much!"

The swing-doors thudded behind them like guns at a great distance.  The
capacious ground-floor drawing-room, not usually crowded before
luncheon, was thronged nearly to the walls.  A vacant space in the
centre presumably accommodated the Distinguished Visitors.  But between
these and Margot’s quickening curiosity intervened a solid wall of

The Distinguished Visitors must be Royalties, decided Margot, as she
skirted the barrier, looking right and left for a peephole, recognising
the vast back of Sir Thomas Brayham, the skeleton back of the Goblin,
the willowy back of Trixie Wastwood, the backs of Lady Beauvayse,
Cynthia Charterhouse, Tota Stannus, and Patrine Saxham with other backs
pertaining to divers dear friends, consolidated into the rampart of
humanity over which the towering feathers of Vanity Fair nodded and
bobbed and waved.

"They’re taking it in," Margot heard Rhona mutter, behind her.
"’_Somebody’s playing off a joke on us_,’ would be the first thing
that’d come into their blessed heads. Well!—let ’em think what they
choose.  Ask me why I did it, Comte, and I swear I couldn’t tell you.
Blue murder! how my arms ache.  But so must yours.  You nursed the
biggest of the babies all the way from Ostend to Charing Cross."

"Mademoiselle is right!"  The swift, fierce undertone was d’Asnay’s.
"They do not comprehend yet.  Not yet!"  He breathed hissingly through
his nose.  "Wait—and presently the Truth will leap at them and strike
them _entre les yeux_.  But a place must be found for the friend of
Mademoiselle!"  He came noiselessly to the side of Margot. "A chair, so.
A footstool, so.  Madame will step on the one and mount to the other.
Permit, Madame, that I offer my assistance!  Now Madame commands an
excellent view of—shall I call it—the spectacle?"

The speaker’s voice was drowned in an outburst of strident music.
Barely two doors from the Club the piano-organ had broken out with "_La
Barbançonne_."  And as the walls vibrated to its shrill cries of
triumph, and the wild disonances of a joy that touches frenzy, the
cracked but vigorous tenor began to sing:

    "Après des siècles, des siècles d’esclavage
      Le Beige sortant du tombeau
    A reconquis par son courage
      Son nom, son droit et son drapeau.
    Et ta main souveraine et fière
      Peuple désormais indompte
    Grava sur ta vielle bannière
      Le roi, la Loi, la Liberté!"

"_Sapristi_!  It is strange that!" d’Asnay muttered at the first bars.
"Mademoiselle Helvellyn devised the tableau, certainly, but who arranged
the _entr’acte_?"

The shrill, unbearable frenzy of the piano-organ abated, the voice of
the singer was more plainly heard.  It chanted in thin nasal tones, with
missed-out notes in each bar that were like gaps where teeth had been in
an old sorrowful singing mouth:

    "O Belgique, O mère chérie,
      A toi nos coeurs, à tot nos bras,
    A toi noire sang, O Patrie——"

While Margot, a-tiptoe en her chair, peered through the screen of
towering feathers at the Club’s Distinguished Visitors,—wondering that
within the wall of absorbed faces there should be so little to attract
or interest.  Nothing more intriguing than the homely figure of a
Flemish peasant woman, with four young children huddled round her, and a
baby at her breast.

                             *CHAPTER LVII*

                           *THE BELGIAN WIFE*

Desolate advance-guard of the vast army so soon to invade the shores of
Britain, how familiar the figure is now that was then so strange to us
in the quaint old-world fashion of its homely garments, the thick white
dust and travel-stains that covered it, from the linen coif to the
wooden shoes.

She was not old, the woman who sat with her little flock gathered about
her, on the Indian stool that had supported the superb person of von
Herrnung, what time he had held forth to Mrs. Charterhouse and Lady
Wastwood upon the loftiness of German Kultur, the perfection of German
female beauty, and the overwhelming mental and bodily superiority of the
German Superman.  A Walloon peasant from a village near Jodoigne where
she and her husband had worked upon a tiny farm.

Perhaps a dozen words of French were hers: "_Tout brûle!_" and "_En
Angleterre où il n’y a pas de Boches!_"

We were to learn to reap terrible meanings from that hoarse, faint
parrot-cry.  Truths that raised the hairs upon the flesh and chilled the
blood were to be imaged for us in the blank vacuity of her unseeing
stare.  We were to learn why all her children squinted, from Vic, the
sturdy man of seven, and Josephine, his junior, possibly by a year, down
to Georgette of the chubby cheeks and crinkly, roguish eyelids, and
Albert, of the round blue stare, the big white-haired head, and the
marvellous bow legs.

In their dull stunned quietude and their clayey pallor, the mark of the
Beast was branded upon them, down to the livid baby in its little cap of
soiled linen, swaddled in the old red shawl, that bound down its arms.
You might have thought it dead, but for the flutter of a muscle in the
cheek, and the faint movement of its lips, feebly sucking at the breast
that had been large and bounteous, and now was lax, and flabby, covered
by a network of darkish violet veins.

"_Who are they? ... What are they? ... Where do they come from? ... Why
were they brought here? ... Does no one know? ... Will no one tell?

The silence of amazement was now breaking.  The mouths belonging to the
faces under the nodding feathers, old and young, handsome and ugly,
vacuous and clever, silly and intellectual, were all prattling
interrogations like the above.  Pride of Place and Joy of Life, Thirst
of Pleasure, Lust of Power, Gaiety and Weariness, Wisdom and Folly,
Humbug and Sincerity, Meanness and Generosity, ringed-in the dusty group
of wooden-shod mysteries and most frightfully wanted to know!  And
nobody offered any solution of the puzzle.  The piano-organ was playing
half a dozen doors below the Club, the cracked old tenor quavering to
its accompaniment:

    "_Nous le jurons tu vivras!_
      _Tu vivras toujours grande el belle_
    _Et ton invincible unité_
      _Aura pour devise immortelle——_"

The music suddenly broke off.  A policeman had ordered the organ to move

"_Tout brûlé!_"

Hitherto the Belgian woman had not looked up, nor changed her listless
attitude.  Now she lifted her empty expressionless eyes, and hoarsely
iterated her parrot-cry. The suckling at her breast whimpered and let go
the nipple. She glanced at it, saying in her own thick Flemish tongue:

"_Daar is geen melk._"[1]

[1] "There is no milk."

She rocked the baby for whom she had no milk.  Its feeble whimper was
not stilled.  She went on to that accompaniment:

"_De Duischer kwamen.  Zy hebben alles gebrand!  De geburen,—mijn
voder—mijn man is gedood!  Zy hebben hem in het vuur geworpen!_"[2]

[2] "The Germans came.  They burned everything.  The neighbours, and my
father, and my husband are dead.  They threw them into the fire."

The baby’s whimper became a wail of feeble protest.  It fought and
struggled frantically under the old red swathing shawl.  The shawl
loosened, slid to the floor, and the wizened arms rose free and jerking.
One arm, tightly bandaged below the elbow, ended in a raw and bloody
stump.  She regarded it with her drained-out stare, not trying to
replace the strappings that had bound it, saying in the heavy voice of a

"_Dees ook hebben ze gedaan.  God sta ons bij!_"[3]

[3] "This too they did.  God help us!"

And sobs and weeping broke out around her, as though that little
handless arm had been a veritable rod of Moses bringing water from the
living rock.  But no sigh lifted her bosom, nor were her dry eyelids
moistened with the dew of tears.  Prussian militarism had wrought its
work upon her. She and hers had been trodden as grapes in the
Hohenzollern Winepress.  Those emptied eyes had seen things done that
might well make devils laugh in Hell.

The Club walls vanished away as we looked, and behind that stricken
figure spread the devastated plains of Belgium, the Sorrowful, the
Glorious, who has endured agony and shame unutterable, that her
neighbours might go free.  We had a vision of the Son of Man descending
in a blood-red, rainy dawning, and heard Him saying to the apostles of
German Kultur:

"_Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these ... ye have done
it unto Me!_"

And not a woman among us who had a man with the British Expedition, but
prayed in her soul, fervently:

"Vengeance is Thine, for Thou hast said it.  But make _him_ Thy scourge,
O Lord!"

                            *CHAPTER LVIII*

                      *SHERBRAND BUYS THE LICENCE*

The spell of silence was broken.  Excitement seethed as Patrine escaped
out of the crush in the drawing-room and returned to the vestibule.
There, subsiding into one of the tall-backed chairs beside the table
that held the Members’ Register and Visitors’ Book, she waited, hoping
against hope that the tall figure in khaki might reappear under the Club


"Oh, Alan!—you came back after all!"

Her gloom changed to radiancy.  She rose up as the tall figure of
Sherbrand passed under the portico, and hurried to him, emptying her
budget of regrets.  "I’ve behaved like a cad.  Do forgive me!  Don’t be
wrathy.  But you can’t be—or you’d never have come back."

"You dear, it’s all right!"  He caught the outstretched hands in both
his and wrung them.  "Forget—and let’s be happy."  The truth about Bawne
tugged at him as he said the words, but he had determined not to torture
her with that horror.  He went on, with the frankness that she found so
lovable, "I was vexed, but it was idiotic of me not to have told you
about the Commission before."

"And the man.  Your French sossifer," she went on, "who looked at me as
though I ought to live in a cage at the Zoo?  What must he have thought
of your taste in young women?  What mustn’t he have said when he got you
out of the way?"

"Oh, not much!"

"Go on.  Rub it in!"

"Well then"—Sherbrand’s mouth was steady, but the laughter in his eyes
was not to be controlled—"he saw I was fearfully sick at your having
shown temper before him. And he told me not to be chagrined because a
handsome woman had made me a little drama."

"F’ff!"  She winced and set her teeth on her crimson underlip.  "He knew
I’d ask and you’d tell me.  He saw me—squirming—in his mind’s eye.  Oh!
and how he’s hit me off.  For I _was_ awfully like the heavy leading
lady of a tin travelling theatre-company.  Aren’t you ashamed of me?
Don’t you loathe me?" she wooed with entreating eyes.

"Frightfully.  Tell me—where can we have a cosy talk together?  I’ve got
a whole hour before I’m due at Hendon," he said.

"The Rose-and-Green Divan—but there are sure to be people smoking there.
Oh!—I know.  The Little Library. Nobody ever goes in, and it’s got a
door opening into the Divan.  Friends of Members aren’t admitted into
the Library—but if you’re caught there—you say you were coming out of
the Divan, where outsiders are allowed—and opened the wrong door—do you
switch on?"

He nodded, repressing the desire to ask in whose company she had been
caught there, and followed the tall lithe figure down a short corridor
leading to the back of the ground-floor.  The corridor ended in the
Little Library, a studious apartment of bathing-machine dimensions,
walled with curiously new-appearing books of information and reference,
and containing two small writing-tables, each supported by a
rosewood-stained Windsor, a brace of baskets, and two deep, cushiony,
Rothmore chairs.  A Member of mature years and mountainous proportions
slept placidly in one of these, with Whitaker’s Peerage balanced at a
perilous angle on the vanishing indications of what must once have been
her lap.  The subdued murmur of voices trickled in from the adjoining
smoking-room with vaporous wisps of Turkish and Virginia.  Save for the
stout slumbering Member the lovers were beautifully alone.

"Good!  Oh, boy!—to have got you back again," Patrine said breathlessly
after their kiss.  She dropped down noiselessly into the springy
embraces of the vacant Rothmore, and Sherbrand smiling, perched upon the
chair’s broad arm.

"This is an unbecoming contrast—isn’t it?"  She leaned her beech-leaf
tinted head against the plastron of the khaki tunic as his strong hand
crept behind her supple waist. "But I don’t care, I can’t think of
anything but you, Alan. When do you start to-morrow, and from where?  I
suppose you mustn’t tell me?"  She sighed, rubbing her cheek against him
as the strong arm embraced and held her.  "Oh me!  What it is to be the
sweetheart of a soldier.  Why—Alan!"

She lifted her head and looked at him, frowning, and her long eyes were
black between the narrowed lids.  "Do you know how your heart jumped
when I said ’soldier’?  Does it mean as much to you as all that?"

He began to stammer a little.

"Oh—well!—you see—we Sherbrands have worn the King’s coat for ages.
Ever since there were any Sherbrands—going by the portraits in the
gallery at Whins—where my father lived when he was a boy.  He used to
describe them to me until I knew them as well as he did from the Sir
Alan who fought with Talbot against the French at Castillan Chatillon as
a boy, and got killed at Bannockburn thirty-five years later, down to
the jolly old Sir Roger, who fought like a Trojan at Badajoz.  He was my
great-grandfather, so I suppose I’ve always had a secret hankering for
the Service. Like the inherited nostalgia Hillmen’s children have for
the mountains, or sailors’ for the sea.  The kind of feeling that sets
the little Arctic foxes in the Zoo howling at the first sprinkle of snow
in December.  Only I knew I mustn’t yield to it.  You know the reason

"You told me, and I answered that that kind of reason couldn’t affect

"Now you shall hear a plan I’ve been nursing."  His arm again engirdled
her.  "Do you know Seasheere?  It’s a little grassy, cliffy, shingly
village on the South-East coast, three-hours’ journey from Charing
Cross.  There’s a Naval Air Station there that was a Seaplane School not
long ago.  We used to send ’em pupils from Hendon: there’s a cottage
where they take lodgers not far off.  I spent three weeks there last
summer, fishing and motor-boating when I wasn’t making friends with
Goody Two Shoes——"

"Who’s Goody Two Shoes?"

"The hydroplane!"  His voice broke in laughter.  "Did you think I meant
a girl?"

"I’m an idiot.  Go on about your plan, dear."

"Oh—well!  The cottage I stayed at was jolly comfortable, and the
landlady the tidiest old woman that ever grilled a chop.  Now
suppose—to-morrow, or a week, or two months hence you got a wire from
Somewhere in France or Belgium saying:
’_Seasheere—such-a-day-and-such-an-hour—Alan_’—would you pack your kit
for a week-end and hop into the train, and come?"

"Without asking—without telling—Aunt Lynette or Uncle Owen?"  She asked
the question breathlessly.

"We’ll tell the Doctor and Mrs. Saxham directly afterwards."  He leaned
his cheek on the beech-leaf hair and his arm tightened about her waist
possessively.  "You said my heart jumped just now when you called me a
soldier.  How it will jump when I pick you out with the glasses, a tiny
black speck on the cliffs at Seasheere, waiting with the sunset behind
you, or the dawn in your eyes to welcome me back from over the sea.  Oh,
my girl!"—his voice wooed her irresistibly—"I’ve dreamed wide awake of
the joy of such a greeting....  It’s up to you to make my dream come
true!"  He kissed her hair.  "And we’ll watch the day die, and sup
together, and you’ll sleep at my nice old woman’s cottage.  And I’ll
turn in at the Air Station—and next morning we’ll be married at
Seasheere Catholic Church!"

"Married—that’s your plan?  Ah, Alan! shall we ever be married?" she

He laughed softly, pressing her against him.

"The little Catholic Church I’ve mentioned was built for the very
purpose.  Perched on the cliffs as though it might spread its rafters
any minute and flap away to sea."  He kissed her hair again.  "Don’t
think I’m spinning fairy-tales. I’ve got a Special Licence, so there’s
no need to bother about time, or previous residence in the district, or
anything stuffy.  Nothing’s wanted but Opportunity, the church, and the
priest.  And that the local Registrar should put in an appearance.
That’s necessary, as we’re not of the same faith—yet!"

She freed herself from his embrace, rose to her superb height, and stood
over him.

"You’ve arranged all this—without consulting me for a minute.  You and
your landlady—and your Licence and your Registrar!  Boy, I am sensible
of a great desire to box your ears soundly for this!"

"I’d rather take a clout from you than a kiss from any other woman."

She tapped him lightly on both ears, and said, putting a butterfly touch
of lips in the middle of the broad, tanned brow:

"There are both clout and kiss.  Now show me the Special Licence."

He thrust his hand into a pocket behind the plastron of the khaki tunic
and pulled out a note-case she had bought and given him.  The shiny
square of parchment-paper bearing the signature of his Grace the
Archbishop of Canterbury drew both their heads together over it.  In a
compartment meant for stamps was a hard, thin, metallic circle, shining
yellow through tissue paper folds.

"The—Ring?" she whispered.

"The Ring!"  He nodded, smiling, as she bent her face over it, kissed
the tissue paper reverently, stuck the Licence back in its compartment,
and gave him back the case.

"And you had these in your pocket this afternoon when I was such a
horrid beast to you?"

"They were burning a hole right into my chest.  Why, Pat,

She half turned away, mopping her wet eyes with her flimsy little

"Because—because—it’s so blessedly sweet and dear of you to have planned
this.  Do you—do you really want it so much?"

"More than anything under the sky," said Sherbrand. "And, don’t you see,
it settles the question of providing for you, splendidly!  If we’re
married, and I get—pipped—Somewhere at the Front—"  He stopped short,
for one of her large hands firmly covered his mouth.

"I won’t have it.  You’re not to speak like that, ever!" said a muffled
voice above his head.  "If you were killed—don’t you
understand—everything’d be over for me!  It’s a kind of nasty little
Death—only to have you hint at it."

"All right!" he mumbled penitently, and kissed the hand. It was
withdrawn, and he went on:

"I have my little fortune, though Flying has made a hole in it.  And I’d
naturally like—as my mother is provided for—the stuff to go to my wife."

"Oh! if I only were—good enough, I would be your wife to-morrow!" she

He got up and took her masterfully in his arms.

"No more of that.  I can’t stick being made out a—bally pattern.  You
are a hundred times too good for me!"

"_But not at all patriotic_," came drifting back upon him in the voice
of Raymond.  His embrace never slackened, but he asked of her a
question, looking for the answer to lighten in her eyes: "Pat—you’ve not
said yet that you’re glad they’ve given me my Flying Commission!—that
you’re British enough to give your man, if it came to giving—for the Old
Shop!  I know you are!—of course you are!—but say it—I’d like to hear

"I—I——"  She caught her breath and her eyes wavered miserably under his
steady gaze.  "I’m not a little bit o’ good at telling decent proper
lies.  I love England—but I love you heaps, heaps, _heaps_ best!"  He
felt her pant between his arms....  She writhed her long white neck like
a creature in desperate agony.  "I want to eat my cake and have it!" she
wailed, evading his eyes.  "Now you know me, you’ll despise me.  But
it’s the truth—anyway! I’d like a man to send to the War—and a man to
keep for myself!"

His arms wrapped her closely and his heart plunged madly against her
bosom.  He kissed her on her yielded mouth, and the kiss was a living

"That will be when we are married and you have a son!" he whispered, and
a drowning horror enveloped her.  She cried out and thrust him back, and
might have sunk down at his feet and told her dreadful story then....

Whitaker’s Peerage intervened, sliding from the lap of the obese,
reposeful Member, and falling to the carpet with a resounding thump.
The indignant eyes of the awakened lady glared at Sherbrand over her
gold-rimmed spectacles. She demanded, snorting:

"Since when has this room—_hr’runk!_—been thrown open to visitors?"

"I’ll inquire," Sherbrand stammered, and the guilty couple fled.  That
night Patrine wrote on a card "Seasheere," and thenceafter wore it in
her bosom.  But many weeks were over her head before the Call came.

                             *CHAPTER LIX*

                         *THE WOE-WAVE BREAKS*

Meanwhile everybody who could get near the Belgian refugees excitedly
pressed hospitality upon them....  The desolate mother was termed "Poor
Dear" in a dozen different keys of sympathy.  But she only looked with
dull vague eyes in the faces of would-be philanthropists.  When kindly
hands tried to draw the little ones away, she grabbed them and held on.

"She doesn’t understand us, the Poor Dear Creature!"  Thus the Goblin,
gulping within her rows of pearls, red-eyed under her towering osprey
_panache_.  "What she has suffered!  It shatters one to realise.  Can
one credit that dear Count Tido could have belonged to such a race?
Miss Helvellyn claims her by right of discovery, I believe, so farewell
to my plans for her benefit!  But Belgians, I understand, are to be had
in any quantity, and Belgians I must and will have!  Think of those rows
and _rows_ of new cottages standing empty at Wathe Regis, and that huge
caravanserai that nobody can live in at the corner of Russell Square!
Do you hear me, Sir Thomas?  Oh, how clever of you, Lady Eliason!  Sir
Thomas, listen!  Lady Eliason _positively promises_ that Sir Solomon
shall interest himself in this.  _Of course_ there must be a Fund, and a
Committee, and a Headquarters!  The Fund must be Huge, the Committee
Representative....  Dear Lady Beauvayse is to be our Hon. Secretary....
With your legal knowledge and influence, and your passion for
philanthropy, Sir Thomas, don’t tell me You are going to keep out of
this! You are damned if you do! did you say?  Bless you!  Who are these
queer people coming in?"

Two nuns in the familiar habit worn by Roman Catholic Sisters of
Charity, little black-robed figures with starched white coifs, broad
white guimpes and flowing black veils, had passed the Club windows a
moment previously.  A tall, slight woman in Quaker grey had seen and
hurried in pursuit of the Sisters, recognised as members of a Belgian
Community, to whom Mrs. Saxham explained the situation, speaking in her
exquisite French.  The Sisters replied in a less polished accent, their
discreet eyes ignoring curious glances as their guide ushered them into
the crowded drawing-room.

The crowd parted before them, revealing Rachel and her children.  The
nuns moved forwards and stood within the radius of those heavy, vacant
eyes.  Life leaped into them. She cried out in her thick Flemish tongue
and was answered, and rose up, the children clinging to her.  In a
moment the Sisters had advanced upon her, taken the baby from the
cramped arms that now resigned it, taken the mother also into a pair of
black-sleeved arms.  And she was weeping on the bosom of Charity, and
telling them the dreadful story that is told anew every day.  Presently
she and Vic, Josephine, Georgette, and Albert the big-headed, were
eating cake and drinking coffee under the sheltering wing of the
Sisters, but though some elderly Members still hovered in their
neighbourhood, the question of a Fund and a Committee had usurped the
attention of the Club.

Lady Eliason and Lady Wathe were selecting a Quorum.... Rhona Helvellyn
had proposed to Lynette an adjournment to the Chintz Room.  They had
reached the swing-doors of the drawing-room, when with violence they
banged open to admit Brenda Helvellyn in the maddest spirits, escorted
by Doda Foltlebarre and Sissi Eliason and half a dozen of the wilder,
younger members of the Club.

Said Rhona, barring her junior’s way with a long thin arm as Brenda
rollicked past her:

"Mrs. Saxham, let me introduce my sister Brenda. Brenda admires you

Brenda, staring with wide bright eyes at the object of her alleged
admiration, offered a pink, moist, recently washed hand to Lynette.  At
Rhona’s indignant exclamation she started and pulled away the hand,

"They wouldn’t let me! ..."

"Wouldn’t let you change into decent clothes when I’d ’phoned Home to
have some sent here?  Tell me another!"

"Well, then, the things hadn’t come!"

"And if they haven’t, why not have stayed upstairs until they do come?"

"All alone....  Oh!  I couldn’t!  Anything awful might happen up
there...."  The peach-face of sixteen winced and the eyebrows puckered.
"And Doda and Sissi simply _love_ me in these things.  They said I must
come down and be seen!"

Doda and Sissi and the guilty six exchanged rapturous winks and
grimaces.  Certainly a damsel of sixteen, whose superb crimson tresses
are crowned with the squashed ruin of a muslin "Trouville" hat, and
whose slender form is draped in the wilted wraith of a light green
aquascutum, is more than likely to create a _succès fou_, on her
appearance in a London drawing-room.

"’Seen!’" Rhona snorted.  "Well, you are a sight, there’s no denying.
From your head to your feet—My merry Christmas! what _have_ you got on
your feet?"

Brenda tittered nervously, poking out a slim foot in a huge golosh lined
with wearied red flannel.

"They’re the Mère Économe’s.  There wasn’t time to dress properly.  We
were turned out of the Convent, haven’t I told you!—just as we stood.
It was early in the morning.  Seven o’clock Mass was just over.  We were
trooping in to the _Réfectoire_ for coffee.  We went to Mass and did our
lessons, in spite of the awful guns.  Then ... all at once—"  She began
to laugh, and a mask of fine glittering dew broke out over her peachy
face from the temples to the upper lip.  "The earth began to shake. The
French were retreating from Charleroi.  They streamed past and past,
horsemen and guns and marching men, just as they’d gone by two days
before when we waved and cheered them from the garden.  Only this time
there were wounded men....  The ambulance waggons were heaped with
them—all bloody and dreadful....  Oh!  And then the shells began to fall
... among the waggons and on the Convent!  "The Germans are coming," the
soldiers called to us.  ’Fly while you have time!’"

"Shut up!" Rhona ordered the girl.  "Haven’t I told you not to talk, you
stoopid!  There weren’t any shells—it’s all your silly nerves.  There
might have been—but there weren’t!"

"But the shells were hitting the Convent walls ... and bursting.  The
house was on fire.  And the French Commandant said to the _Maitresse
Générale_: ’It will be _rasé_ over your heads if you remain, Madame.
_On n’y fait quartier à personne—les Allemands_!  They are advancing in
incredible numbers.  The road to Calais lies open before them because of
the Great Catastrophe of yesterday.  Our hearts are sad, not only for
our own losses, but for the misfortunes of our friends across the——’"

"WILL you be silent!  He never said so!"

With her scarlet head surmounting the shiny waterproof, Brenda rather
reminded one of a Green Hackle, the likeness to the splendid
gauze-winged fly being increased by the brightness of her eyes.  Very
round, very wide open, and with strange lines radiating from the
pin-point speck of pupil to the outer band ringing the hazel irids, they
stared from that crystal-beaded mask of hers.  "But, Rhona," she
reiterated, bewildered by her senior’s vehemence of contradiction, "he
_did_ say so!  And the Convent was burning when we left!"

"If it was, you’re to forget it—d’you hear me?  And look here, if you
dare to talk like this at home——"

"I won’t.  I know the Mater mustn’t be upset!  Look here, I’ll swear I
won’t, if that’ll do!  Only don’t say I’ve got to stop upstairs, will
you?  They’re so gay here," Brenda pleaded humbly—"it’ll help me to

"All right!" and with a warning scowl from Rhona the sisters parted.
Lynette Saxham asked, looking after the little bizarre figure of Brenda
with wistful tenderness in her eyes:

"Will she recover from the shock of the horrors she has seen the more
quickly because you forbid her to speak of them?"

"I don’t know....  I haven’t thought....  It’s my mother I bother most
about....  You see, Roddy’s Battery—Roddy’s my brother—has gone with the
Expedition.  If Brenda talks rawhead and bloody-bones—but I’ll take care
she don’t, the little fool!"

The eyes of both women followed the funny little figure. Lynette said as
it was absorbed in a crowd of laughing friends:

"Would you prefer that we finished our talk here?"  She glanced at the
settee in a glass-screened angle near the fireplace, and Rhona assented
with evident relief.  Her Chiefs of the W.S.S.S., she explained, were
anxious that Mrs. Saxham should consent to speak at the Royal Hall Mass
Meeting of Protest Against the Delay of Parliament in passing the Woman
Suffrage Bill.  The Meeting was fixed for the middle of October.  Mrs.
Saxham’s sympathy with the Movement was to be gathered from her
writings.  A personal expression would be valued by the W.S.S.S.

"I am in sympathy to the extent of joining in any form of protest or any
description of organised Demonstration that is not characterised by
violence," said Lynette.  "To brawl at public meetings"—Rhona wondered
whether she had heard of her own baulked attempt to heckle the Bishops
at the Guildhall Banquet?—"to assault public personages and damage
private or public property is not the method by which the Franchise will
be gained.  To make war upon men is not the way, I think, to win their
suffrages for women. But I will gladly speak at the Meeting, please be
kind enough to tell the Chiefs."

"It’s awfully sporting of you—when you’ve been in such trouble.  It must
have been quite too awful," bungled Rhona, "about your boy!"

"About my boy! ..."  Lynette caught her breath and nipped her lower lip
between her teeth to keep back the cry that else must have escaped her.
"You are kind.... You will be infinitely kinder if you say no more!"

"I beg your pardon.  I’m frightfully clumsy!" apologised Rhona.
"Roddy—my brother who’s at the Front—once told me that I had the tact of
a steam-cultivator and the discretion of a runaway motor-bus."  She
added: "I’m afraid you think I was rough on Brenda.  But the Mater’s
heart-trouble keeps us all on tenterhooks, and for her sake—no matter
what horrors are hinted or whispered—nothing shall make me
believe—anything but the Best, until the Worst is brought to my door!
You understand, don’t you? ... What’s that?  Young Brenda——"

A gust of laughter drew the eyes of both women to the Green Hackle, who,
surrounded by an appreciative circle, including Margot and Trixie
Wastwood, Cynthia Charterhouse, Doda and Sissi, was performing the
maddest _pas seul_ that ever held the floor.  One huge golosh flew off,
shaving a gilt-and-crystal electrolier as she finished with a daring
high kick, and dropped down breathless and panting between Margot and
Cynthia Charterhouse.

"You crazy child!" cooed Mrs. Charterhouse, patting one of the pink

"I feel crazy!" gurgled Brenda, while Doda picked up her battered
Trouville hat and Sissi retrieved hairpins scattered over the Club
carpet.  "Oh, my stars!  You don’t know, you’ll none of you ever guess
what it is to me to find you all so gay!"  She bounced on the springy
seat until her red locks tossed like the mane of a Shetland pony.  "Now
I really can believe—really!—that the whole thing’s been a bad dream!
Like you get when Sisters have been too busy to boil the potatoes soft,
or take the cores out of the stewed apples."  She turned her head and
the sparkling mask of tiny beads broke out again over her flushed face.
"Who are those _Soeurs de Charité_?" she asked, for the circle of
elderly Members had melted away and the two Religious were now going,
taking with them the Belgian mother and her children, to whom—of course
at the Club’s expense—they were to afford a temporary home.  "What are
they here for?  Why, that’s the woman who came with us on the boat from
Ostend! Ah, my God!—it’s all true!  I can’t tell lies any more!  Do you
hear, Rhona?" and the bizarre little figure leaped up and stood before
them, defiant and panting.  "Not even for you and Mother!"  The voice
broke in a wail.  "Oh! how can you bear to see everyone so gay when the
Guards and Gunners have been killed at Mons?  Seven thousand lying dead,
the French Commandant told us.  Thousands taken prisoners—and we sit
laughing here——"

Lynette Saxham caught the little body as it doubled on itself and
dropped like a shot rabbit.  She carried it to one of the settees, and
knelt by it, loosening the clothes, working with swift and motherly

The piano-organ had come back, or another like it,—and was jolting out
the popular pseudo-pathetic strains of "Good-bye, Little Girl,
Good-bye!"  The swing-doors had thudded behind the nuns and their
charges.  Lady Wathe was just saying to Lady Eliason:

"Then you, dear, will personally apply to the Foreign Office and the
Home Office and the Belgian Ambassador and the County Council.  Pray
count on me for _all_ the rest! Sir Solomon is a Tower of Strength!  You
agree with me, don’t you, Sir Thomas?  Mercy on us!  _What_ a commotion!
Who has had a telegram from the Front?  Who says the Guards and Gunners
have been annihilated?  Who says the British Expedition has been
overwhelmed by numbers and forced to Retreat?  Will nobody stop that
horrible organ? Will nobody answer me?"

It was the tragic crowning of that day of trivial happenings that the
Iron Curtain that had baffled us so persistently should rise to the tune
of a music-hall ballad at the touch of a schoolgirl’s hand.  Long before
the huge funeral broadsheets broke out in the gutters of Fleet Street,
the Strand, Pall Mall, and Piccadilly, screaming of the RETIREMENT OF
MONS, the Tidal Wave of Mourning that was to sweep the United Kingdom
from end to end had crashed down upon the Club.

Ah! how one had underrated them, those dead men who, living, had seemed
to hold themselves so lightly.  Who, submitting to be outclassed in
Sport even while holding it the thing best worth living for, had
smilingly accepted those hateful records of 1912-1913.

Theirs is a glorious record now.  Above the huge Roll that is wreathed
with bloodstained laurels, droop the Flags of the Allied Nations, their
heavy folds all gemmed with bitter tears.  Each nightfall finds the
endless Roll grown longer. Each day-dawn sees the Hope of noble houses,
the pride and stay of homes gentle and simple swallowed up in the abyss
that is never glutted!  How long, O Lord? we cry, yet comes no nearer
the End for which the smallest children pray.

And the women....  In the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel we read of a
valley of dry bones over which the Spirit of the Creator breathed.  When
that Wind from Heaven stirred them, the dead white bones put on Life and
rose up. A change as miraculous has been wrought in Woman since the
Black Deluge left a deposit of new-made widows and mourning mothers,
red-eyed sisters and silent wan-faced sweethearts, sitting about the
little tables where the empty places showed as awful gaps.

The bereaved did not shed many tears.  Their grief was too deep to be
emotional, their newly-awakened spirit too lofty for complaint.  Their
pride in their dead men was their upholding.  Their bleeding hearts they
only showed to GOD.  Before then, He was for many of us non-existent:
for many more a remote, passively observant Personality but tepidly
interested in the affairs of the human race. Would these have learned to
know Him, think you, if there had been no War?

And those whom every newspaper unfolded, every knock at the door might
smite with dire intelligence, right bravely they bore themselves through
that fortnight-long, hideous pipe-dream of the Long Retreat South.  For
many of these the torture of suspense was to give place to cruel
certainty, after that unforgettable Sunday of the Sixth September, when
at a distance of twelve kilometres from Paris the retirement of the
Allied Armies suddenly changed to an Advance, and the columns of German
Guard Uhlans in hot pursuit of the British Force, were routed by
Generals Gough and Chetwode with our 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades.  For
many, many others, the strain has never since slackened. They lie o’
nights as they lay through those nights of September, 1914, and feel the
bed shaking, and the floors and walls vibrating, as the outer rings of
vast concussions spread to them through the troubled ocean of
atmosphere.  And in the mornings they will tell you calmly:

"Oh, yes.  _He_ is alive, but where he is there is terrible fighting.  I
heard the guns." ...

No arguments of people whose sons or husbands are not with the Army in
Belgium, or France, Italy, or Palestine, will convince them that they do
not hear the guns.  Or that, borne upon the waves of a subtler medium
than air are not conveyed to them finer, more mysterious vibrations.

Thoughts that meet thoughts.  Mental appeals—demands—entreaties.... The
hands of their souls, reaching out through the dark hours, clasp those
of other souls in greetings and farewells.

                              *CHAPTER LX*


The Belgian village-town had been so sorely knocked about that the names
of its faubourgs, boulevards, and thoroughfares were obliterated.
Hence, one is fain to substitute others, such as the Street Where The
Naked Body Of The Little Girl Hung Up On Hooks In the Butcher’s Window,
the Passage Of The Three Dead British Soldiers With Slit Noses And
Pounded Feet,—The Square Of The Forty Blindfolded Civilian Corpses, and
the Place Of The Church Of The Curé They Crucified For Warning The
British By Ringing The Bells.  Of this sacred edifice—Romanesque and
dating from the tenth century—little remained beyond the crypt and the
stump of the tower.  Some calcined and twisted bones, a scorched rag of
a cassock, represented M. le Curé, that faithful shepherd of souls.  Of
M. le Curé’s flock, not one remained to tell the story of the tragic
episode that had reared the grim pile of blackening corpses in the
Market Square, and added seven hundred homeless refugees to the rivers
of human wretchedness ceaselessly rolling South.

In the bright sunshine of the fine October morning that had followed a
night of rain and thunder, the grimly-altered shadows of shell-torn
buildings lay black on the ripped-up pavements and shrapnel-pocked
walls.  A sandy-white cat lapped gratefully at a puddle, a dishevelled
fowl pecked between the cobblestones, a pigeon or two preened on the
broken ridge-tiles.  To the eye of a skilled observer hovering hawk-like
in the hot blue heavens, raking the streets through high-powered Zeiss
binoculars, nothing human remained alive in this Aceldama.  Yet when the
two-seated bomb-carrying Taube with the big man and the small boy in it
had banked and climbed, and hummed away Southwards on its aërial mission
of ruin and destruction, one British officer, sorely wounded, lay in
what had been the ground-floor living-room of a well-to-do baker’s shop.

A Captain of a Guards infantry battalion belonging to a Brigade of the
First Division of the First Army Corps. Marching, counter-marching,
digging, and fighting rearguard actions had kept the Brigade’s hands
full during those blazing days and drenching nights of August and
September, whilst the battered Divisions that had borne the brunt of the
huge German offensive, reduced to one-twentieth of their effective, had
hurried Southwards, leaving a trail of blood.

"Those other beggars have had all the luck!" the Brigade had growled
when it had any time for growling.  But it had won shining honours at
the Marne, and had been heavily engaged at the Aisne, losing many of its
men and officers. In the Aisne battle, particularly, the man we are
concerned with had won special mention in Dispatches for a deed of great
gallantry.  Three days previously, an order from General Headquarters
had moved his battalion on the little village town.

Their R.F.A. Battery had been posted a quarter-mile distant, commanding
the north-east and east where the Germans were known to be.
Machine-guns were placed at the principal road-ends debouching on the
west where the Germans might be: the main streets had been barricaded
with transport-waggons and motor-lorries, all the Maxims left had been
hidden behind the sand-bagged windows of a factory—a gaunt, brick
sky-scraper, long a thorn to the beauty-loving eye of M. le Curé—the
walls of houses ending streets leading to the country had been loopholed
for musketry, and a howitzer from the battery and a machine-gun had been
spared to protect the bridge south of the town, a little place resting
in the elbow of a small babbling river. Watches and patrols had been set
and pickets placed, and then these war-worn Britons had dispersed into
billets, or gone into barracks, too weary to eat, craving only for
sleep.... That big mound of blackened ruins near the railway station,
left intact for strategic purposes by the enemy, now stood for the
barracks—just as that calcined heap of masonry, and twisted iron girders
at the town’s north angle now represented the hospital.  Both had
blazed, two huge, unquenchable, incendiary-shell-kindled pyres, to light
the retreat of the battalion south.

Secure on those points of menace, north-east, east, and west, the
exhausted battalion had slept like dead men.  The townspeople, relieved
in mind by the presence of so many English soldiers, slept like
Flemings—very nearly the same thing.  The Burgomaster slept; M. le Maire
followed his example.  M. le Docteur and M. l’Avocat slumbered
profoundly too.  Only M. le Curé, being restless for some reason or
other, resolved to spend the night on the church-tower in the company of
his breviary, an electric reading-lamp, a bottle of strong coffee, and a
battered but excellent night-glass, the property of his late maternal
uncle, an Admiral of the French Navy.

Four hours they had slept, when a furious clangour from the church bells
awakened the sleepers.  Shrill whistles screamed, bugles were sounded,
Staff officers and company commanders clattered out of their
quarters—the battalion jumped like one man to its feet.  Voices talked
over the wires of the field-telephones.  An artillery patrol-leader had
ridden into the advance of a column of heavy motor-lorries approaching
the bridge that crossed the river, carrying the highway that had brought
the battalion from the south.  Lorries heavy-laden with—French
infantry!—for an outpost’s flashlight on the advance had revealed the
Allies’ uniform.  Well, what of it!  French troops were in the east upon
the Yser.  But still the crazy church-bells jangled and clanged and
pealed, shrieking:


And another broad arrow of dazzling blue-white light showed
motor-lorries packed with spiked helmets and green-grey tunics, behind
the _képis_ topping men in blue coats and red breeches.  The gunners of
the howitzer, spared for the point commanding the road south of the
bridge, were picked off by German sharpshooters before they could fire.
The officer with the machine-gun was bayoneted and the gun itself
seized.  Revolvers cracked and spat incessantly, bayonets plunged
through the darkness into grunting bodies.  Britons and Boches strove in
a mêlée of whirling rifle-butts and pounding fists.  And by the light of
star-shell, shrapnel, and machine-gun-fire from the other side of the
river began to play indiscriminately on the assailants and the assailed.
Under cover of this fire, the Germans would have rushed the bridge, but
for the Factory stuffed with machine-guns, pumping lead from its
windows, and the howitzer—Oh! bully for the howitzer! thought the
wounded man.

His company had been entrenched as a reserve near the bridge in the
mouth of a faubourg running westwards. They had doubled out to support
the bridge-party in the moment of alarm.  He had been shot then in the
right arm and had gone on using his revolver with the left hand.  It was
not until some well-timed shrapnel from the R.F.A. battery north-east of
the town began to burst among the green-grey uniforms, and the Kaisermen
took to their motor-lorries and went off, carrying their wounded and
leaving many dead—that Franky had been sensible of any pain.

"You’ve been pipped, old man," had said the commander of the
bridge-company, mopping a smudged and perspiring visage with a
handkerchief that shrieked for the wash.

"By the Great Brass Hat! so I have, but I’d forgotten all about it,"
said Franky, surveying the carnage in the golden sunlight of the
newly-minted day.  "Look at these fellows in French uniforms.  It’s an
insult to the Allies to bury ’em like that.  Couldn’t we take off the
blue coats and red baggies before we stow ’em underground?  And the
prisoners.  What beauties!  Whining ’Kamerad!’ to our chaps, and putting
their hands up for mercy.  Do they suppose——"

The speaker ceased, for the brother-officer who had commanded the
bridge-company was absorbed in looking through his binoculars at a
silvery speck in the western heavens.  It grew into a British R.F.C.
scouting biplane, that came droning overhead at 4,000, circled, fired a
white rocket for attention, dived nearer, circled again, and dropped a
scrawled message in a leaded clip-bag.

"_Enemy-column—infantry with motor-lorries and two guns crossing
river—bridge a mile to the West of you—hurrying hell-for-leather North.
Dropped them two bombs.  Bigger column advancing from North with more
motor-lorries and howitzers.  Look out for squalls that direction.
Roads to South all clear._"

"Those crossing the bridge to west of us will be the gentlemen who came
round that way to leave their cards!" said the Lieutenant-Colonel
Commanding as the biplane sang itself away.  "Probably a column detached
for the surprise from the bigger force to the north.  Well, we seem to
have finished top-dog.  Let’s hope they won’t tackle us again until the
men have had their coffee.  ’Phone the Brigadier at Zille!  And
’wireless’ the news of the scrimmage to the Divisional Commander at Baix
and Marwics thirty miles south of us, and get a message through to Sir
Kenneth"—he named the General Officer Commanding the A.C. to which the
Brigade belonged.  "And give details to the G.H.Q. at St. O., don’t
forget!  Not that we’ll get much credit over this."  The Colonel
scowled, surveying from the sandbagged window of Headquarters, situate
in the Factory, the long lines of stretchers being trotted off by the
R.A.M.C. bearers to the town Hospital.  He rubbed his finger under the
bristles of his close-clipped moustache with a rasping sound that
conveyed his irritation as he went on: "That’s the worst of these rotten
little Advance-guard actions!  They’re expensive, infernally expensive.
The casualties are heavy and the credit _nil_."

"Possibly, sir, but at any rate we’ve wiped out a lot of these Boche
beggars," said the Battery Commander, optimistically.  "Halloa!  Bird
over!  And it’s a Boche plane!"

A two-seated Taube, shining silver in the morning sunshine, had come out
of the golden mists to northward, rolling up the landscape under its
steel belly with wonderful steady swiftness.  At some 3,000 above the
town, it hovered, making a queer buzzing noise.

"I’ve heard that song before," said the Adjutant, his eyes glued to his
binoculars.  "You remember, sir, at Fegny?"

"The spotter our fellows christened the Buzzard.  At his old
smoke-signalling tactics."  The Colonel snatched the Field-telephone,
spoke, and from a gaping skylight at the top of the tall, square,
many-windowed Factory an extravagantly-tilted Maxim began to pump lead
skywards in a glittering fan-shaped stream.  "Queer effect, uncommonly!
Looks as if it were raining upside down....  Gad!—I believe that hit
him!" he added, as a small dark object fell from the Hunnish monoplane.
But it was only the inevitable miniature parachute with the smoke-rocket
attached to it belching gouts of black vapour.  The Buzzard ceased
buzzing, banked, and climbed gracefully out of view.

And then, with a leaping of green-white tongues of flame away in the
north, beyond a long sunlit stretch of level country fringed with
poplars and streaked with canals, and patched with brown cornfields and
golden-tinted woods and apple-laden orchards, and dotted with little
towns and villages, the heavy German field-guns and 11.2-inch Krupp
howitzers began to shower shrapnel and big steel shells of High
Explosive upon the devoted little town.

The Kaisermen had got the range from their spotter. Half of the single
Field battery of 18-pounder quick-firers were put out of action in the
twinkling of an eye.  The little town became a storm-centre, canopied by
soot-black smoke, stabbed by the fierce blue glares of the shell-bursts.
The houses were toppling.  The ruins were blazing.  The gasometer near
the station was hit and blew up with a fearful explosion.  The streets
were full of shrieking, stampeding, dying townspeople and children.
"Save us!  Take us with you!" they screamed to the Englishmen.  For the
Divisional Commander at Baix and Marwics had telegraphed "Retire," and
the battalion was preparing to evacuate the town.

A great shell wrecked the Factory, killed the Adjutant and many of the
machine-gunners, and slightly wounded the C.O.  The Romanesque
church-tower, whose bells had shrieked alarm in the little hours of the
morning, rocked, staggered, and collapsed over its famous chime.

Again, men had melted as you laid your hands on them, blown into crimson
rags as their mouths opened shouting to you.  It had been Hell, Franky
remembered, sheer, absolute, unvarnished Hell.  The Battalion
Surgeon-Major had been dressing his wounded arm in the open street when
the Death-blizzard had broken upon them.  A lump of shrapnel hit Franky
in the ribs on the right side and some R.A.M.C. bearers carried him,
vomiting blood, into the baker’s shop. Possibly they were killed—for a
shell hit and burst, and wrecked the house in the instant of their
leaving it—and they never came back again.  Their charge, in his
helplessness, had escaped death by a narrow shave.  The plank flooring
of the upper room, dropping from the broken joist at the fireplace end,
had formed a penthouse over him—lying on the blood-soaked stretcher on
the tiled flooring—shielding him from the avalanche of household
furniture, glass and crockery, descending from overhead.

Thus he had lain, partially unconscious, when what was left of the
battalion marched out of the town.  Most of the population followed on
the blistered heels of the British soldiers, helping to carry the
stretchers of the wounded and crippled men who under that blizzard of
fiery Death had been got out of the burning Hospital.  Not all had been
got out.  Franky, lying bloody and smothered with plaster, and helpless
under the penthouse of planking that had saved him, had heard the
screams of these—such pitiful, heart-rending screams.

Then the bombardment had stopped, and the mere relief from that
intolerable torture of outrageous sound was Heaven.  The screams from
the burning Hospital had ceased, but when the earth had shaken with the
approach of a great host, and German cavalry in green-grey uniforms with
covered helmets had ridden through the ravaged streets, and the
tottering walls had trembled at the passage of colossal motor-tractors
dragging 11.2-inch Krupps and carrying huge loads of German gunners,
engineers, and infantry—and German voices had shouted harshly up and
down the streets—and German heads were thrust from open windows—and the
work of Pillage, so dear to the German heart, was being carried out with
German thoroughness—the screaming had begun again.—Cries of women and
children, shouts of men; pleas, expostulations, prayers for mercy in
French or Flemish, brutal laughter, German oaths, threats, and orders;
subsequently, to the accompaniment of "_Deutschland, Deutschland, über
Alles_"—the popping of corks and the breaking of glasses—Hochs for
Kaiser and Kronprinz, fierce disputes over the divison of booty, more
shrieks of women and girls....  To the funeral adagio of picks and
mattocks upon the cobblestones of the Market Square.  A volley then, and
shots and more shots.... Subsequently Private of Infantry, Max
Schlutter, made these scrawled entries in his note-book; testifying to
the Sadism prevailing among the troops of the Attila of To-day:

"_October —th, 1914.  Great day of loot and plunder! We shelled the
cowardly English—a whole Army Corps with a brigade of heavy
Artillery—out of the village of H——.  The Hospital, Barracks, Church,
and many houses destroyed by our guns.  The Mayor, the Burgomaster, and
the Registrar shot for harbouring our enemies.  The priest tied up to
his church-door, tortured, and then burnt, for ringing the bells to warn
the English of our approach.  Lieutenant Rossberg had a little girl
butchered like a pigling, and pounded the feet of some lame English
soldiers we found hiding, to teach the swine how to dance.  They too
were shot.  Decidedly the Lieutenant is a funny fellow.  All the people
who had not run away brought out of their houses and shot.  They filled
the air with their lamentations.  After a grand gorge and a big swill,
we now all drunk and slept on the pavements by the light of a
magnificent silvery moon.  Burned more houses, and continued the march
next day with a hellishly bad head._"

"How long before they find me out?" Franky had wondered.  But the
plaster-whitened brown boots sticking stiffly out under the penthouse of
broken flooring must have looked as though they clothed the rigid feet
of a dead man. "Presently they will come!" he had promised himself.  But
though they had sacked the baker’s shop and visited the other rooms in
the dwelling, no one had entered the ravaged little parlour, split open
from floor to ceiling by the upburst of the High Explosive, and offering
its ravaged, worthless interior to the scrutiny of every passing eye.

Worn and spent with fierce exertion, hard fighting, and loss of blood,
delirious with the rising fever of his wounds, he was conscious in
whiffs and snatches.  The conscious intervals made fiery streaks across
broad belts of murky shadow, a No Man’s Land wherein Franky wandered,
meeting things both beautiful and hideous, knowing nothing real except
thirst, racking cramps, and stabbing pain.

The second day passed.  At sun-high a distant fury of guns broke out.
Through the terrible drum-fire of Prussian Artillery he fancied he could
hear the British field-guns, hammering out Death in return for Death.
Suffering agonies for lack of water, he sustained life with scraps of
chocolate broken from a half-cake carried in a breast-pocket. To move
one hand and carry it to his mouth was possible at cost of ugly pain.
Night fell, a night that was rainy, and windy, full of cool drippings
that wet Franky’s clothes without visiting his baked lips, and still the
cannonade went on ceaselessly—so that the crazy walls that sheltered him
shuddered and the earth vibrated, and the eeriness was made more eerie
with the sliding of tiles from broken rafters, and the creaking and
banging of broken doors, slammed by ghostly, invisible hands.  Pale
splashes of light,—reflected stabs of fire from the muzzles of those
unsleeping guns in the south and west, made the darkness yet more
dreary. Rats scrambled and squeaked, close to him in the obscurity,
evoking horrible suggestions of being gnawed and bitten as one lay
helpless there....  He gritted his teeth to keep back the cry that
nearly broke from him as one rodent crossed him, its hooked claws
rattling against his straps and buttons, its cold hairless tail sliding
snakily over his hand. He fancied that he saw its eyes shining in the
darkness—he was certain that it had moved and lopped round behind him—he
felt its whiskered snout cautiously approaching the throbbing artery
beneath his ear....  Then his nerve left him, and he croaked out feebly,
though it seemed to him that he shouted:

"S’cat, you brute!  Get, you beggar!  Halloa; Halloa! _Belges au
secours_!  _Ici un Anglais, grievement blessé_!  Is anybody there?"

But there came no answer save the muffled thunder of guns in the
distance, the crackle of fire in houses that were burning, the gurgling
of a broken water-main, and the distressed miaowing of a cat.  It came
nearer.  There was a rustling sound, and the light descent of a furry
body on padded feet; Pussy had jumped in where the window had been,
alighting not far from Franky.  He could see a pair of green eyes
lamping in the darkness, and called, seductively:

"Pussy, pussy!  Come here, old girl!"

The purr came near.  Franky, with infinite torment reached out a hand,
felt and stroked a warm, furry body.  He said, cautiously feeling for
the appreciative, sensitive places at the nape of a cat’s neck, and
under the jaws:

"Good old girl.  Don’t know what they call cats in Flemish, but Pussy
seems to be good enough for you.  Stop and scare the rats away, give ’em
fits, eh, Pussy?  You’re agreeable?  Good egg!  Oh—I say!"

For Pussy had walked, loudly purring, on to the chest that heaved so
painfully, and proceeded to knead the surface scientifically,
preparatory to curling down.  Franky set his teeth, and bore the ordeal.
Thus they kept company until morning, when Pussy, who proved to be a
lean white Tom with patches of sandy tortoiseshell on flanks and
shoulders, withdrew by the fanged opening where the window had been.  A
moment later Franky heard his late companion lapping noisily from a
street-puddle and knew envy, in the anguish of his own unrelieved

He wandered then for a space of hours or instants, in the days of his
own lost childhood.  He was in the night-nursery at Whins, suffering
from some feverish ill.  He felt the prickling as of innumerable ants
running up his limbs and the sweat upon his forehead, and called
meaningly to Nurse for drink.  But it was his mother in her
dinner-dress, with shining jewels crowning her dark hair, and wreathing
her neck and starring her bosom, who came to the bedside and leaned over
him, put the rumpled hair from his hot forehead, and held to his lips
the cup of milk.  Then a droning sound made the room vibrate, and he was
back with his company in the hastily-dug trench across the mouth of the
west-running thoroughfare, and church-bells were clanging and the
telephone-buzzer was calling for the reserve to double out and reinforce
the men in the trench enfilading the bridge....

Then he was awake and the sun was high.  Those guns in the west were
silent now, though from the south and south-east came heavy thuds and
long vibrations.  Through the rents in the flooring above him by which
the rain had dripped upon him in the night, he was looking at the blue
sky.  A big white bird hovered there.  Not a bird—a Taube.  _The_ Taube,
and he had not dreamed the buzzing after all.

Oh, but it was queer to lie there under the keen scrutiny of that eye in
the heavens!  It made the prickly ants swarm up Franky’s thighs and
sides until the sensation grew unbearable.  Hate, fierce hate of the
murderous, beautiful thing droning up there in the azure sky above its
curious misty circle made him see everything red, made him want to yell
and shriek.  For Margot was in danger, somehow—somewhere—while one lay
helpless as a log....

"Steady, old child!" whispered Franky to himself, warningly. "You’re
going off your chump.  Hold still!"

And he held still.  The Buzzard ceased to buzz, and floated on, droning.
He fancied that he felt its shadow darken and pass over him, moving from
his head to his feet. The noise of the tractor stopped.  Reflected in
the area of a skewed wall-mirror he saw the machine volplane down, and
alight without a falter in the Market Place—before the smoking ruins of
the Town Hall.

                             *CHAPTER LXI*

                            *LYNETTE DREAMS*

Upon that same night in October nearly five weeks following the breaking
of the Woe Wave, Lynette Saxham had a strange dream.

It seemed to her that she saw piled up in one colossal heap the riches
of all the world, the world we know and the world we have forgotten; the
treasures of all ages piled up higher than Kilimanjaro, or Aconcagua, or
the cloud-mantled peak of Mount Everest.  To her feet as she stood
spell-bound amongst the foothills, rolled jewelled crowns, and huge
barbaric torques and diadems of rough gold, precious cups, vases, and
chargers; outpoured treasures of precious stones and wrought gems of
inconceivable beauty and vileness, wondrous fabrics, marvels of
sculpture, weapons, armour and coins of age beyond the ages—rude discs
of tarnished gold, stamped with the effigies of forgotten kings.
Orders, decorations, the paraphernalia of Pomp, the stage-properties of
Power, the symbols of every religion, save One, were mingled in the
stupendous pile, and a terrible Voice cried:

"Gone is the age of pride in possession!  Chattels and fardels are no
more!  The days have spilt like pearls from a broken necklace!  Time has
eaten the years as the moth a garment of wool!  Foredone, foregone,
finished!  Who now will gather riches from the Dustheap of the World?"
And as new avalanches of treasure rolled downwards to the reverberation
of that thunderous shout, a Hand of Titanic proportions hurled down upon
the heap a war-chariot of beaten gold, with great scythed wheels, and
jewelled harness; and that vision changed, and the dreamer was drowning,
deep down in clear green seas, under the rushing keel of a huge barbaric
War-galley that was all of gold, arabesqued and bossed with jewels, and
coral, and pearl.

And the sense of suffocation passed, and a wonderful cool peace flowed
in upon Lynette.  She seemed to be led by a beloved hand that had been
dust for years, into a bare walled place through which a thin breeze
piped shrilly. Someone was there, doing some manual labour.  He turned,
and with a shock of unutterable rapture Lynette was looking in the face
of her lost boy.

Bawne had grown thin and seemed taller.  His temples had hollowed, his
plume of tawny-gold hair hung unkempt over his wide white forehead.  But
his blue eyes were as sweet as ever.  She had never realised how like
they were to Saxham’s in shape and colour, and in expression, until now.
He thrust his lower jaw out and knit his brows slightly, as though her
face were fading from his vision, and he wished to fix in mind the
memory of its well-loved features:

"Stay, Mother!  Oh!  Mother, don’t leave me!" he cried, and stretched
out his hands to her, and she awakened, weeping for sorrow and joy.

It was broad day.  Her husband was not there.  She rose and bathed in
the cold water she loved, and dressed in the simple Quaker-like grey
that set off her fairness, and went out to Mass....  The day’s
Preparation was taken from the noble prayer of St. Ambrose, Bishop and

"_And now before Thee, O Lord, I lay the troubles of the poor; the
sorrows of nations, and the groanings of those in bondage; the
desolation of the fatherless; the weariness of wayfarers; the
helplessness of the sick; the struggles of the dying; the failing
strength of the aged; the ambitious hopes of young men; the high desires
of maidens; and the widow’s tears.  For Thou, O Lord, art full of pity
for all men: nor hatest aught of that which Thou hast made._"

He even loved von Herrnung, who had taken her boy, and kept him in
slavery, and robbed the joyous light from his sweet eyes, and set
amongst his red-brown hair one sinister streak of white.  She saw the
bleached forelock dangling before her eyes when she shut them and tried
to pray for the Enemy:

"Oh God! forgive that evil man, and turn his heart towards mercy and
pitifulness, and give me back Thy precious gift, for the love of Her who
is Thy Mother!"

It was yet early when she returned to Harley Street and passed at once
into the Doctor’s consulting-room.  There, where her lips had first
kissed him, sleeping in his chair, she found Saxham sitting at his
table, with his sorrow of heart revealed in the stoop of his great
shoulders, and his greying head resting upon his hands.  Not a sound did
he utter, but the attitude was more than eloquent:

"Oh my son!" it said.  "Oh me!—my little son!"

"Owen!" she said, coming to his side and touching him. Then, as he
started and looked up: "Bawne is alive!" she cried.  "I have seen him in
a dream, and he has spoken to me.  He was in a bare high place with
corrugated iron walls, whitened.  It made me think of the Hospital at
Gueldersdorp in the old days, and of a hangar....  His clothes were
soiled and torn, and his hands were blackened.  One other thing I
saw—but I will not wring your heart by telling you....  It is enough
that I have seen our boy.... alive.  Oh! thank God!"  She stopped, and
the rose of joy faded from her cheeks, and only the tears were left
there. Her eyes widened with a terrible doubt.  "You _knew_! ... It is
in your face!  You had heard ... something, and you did not tell me!"

"I had not the courage.  Despise me, for I deserve it!  I had news of
Bawne at the end of August.  He is with that man who stole him—"  He
clenched the hand that rested on the table until the knuckles showed
white upon it and his hair was wet upon his forehead and his mouth was
twisted awry.  "Taken with him on errands of aërial
reconnaissance—carried helplessly into battle as a Teddy bear or a
golliwog might be fastened on the front of a racing-plane. And, when I
remember that I bade him risk that journey—"  Saxham broke off, and
turned his face away.  She came nearer to him and said:

"But he is alive!—alive, even though he be in danger. My dream was sent
to tell me so.  Did not the Mother come to me in my sleep and lead me to
him?  Just as when she came and sent me here to you.  Now I will atone
for these days of selfish grieving.  Only give me work to do!"

"Have you not enough upon your hands already?  Too much, I have
sometimes feared."

"Only the Hospice and the Schools," she answered eagerly, "and the
Training Houses for the elder women. And, thanks to you, these are
excellently staffed.  If I were to die it would make little difference.
Things would go on just the same."

"Would they?"

She stooped, lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it.  He looked at
her keenly as she did so, and the over-bright flush upon the thin cheeks
and the hollows about the beautiful eyes, like the burning touch of her
hand and of her lips, told him their tale of woe.

"Not for you.  Nothing would ever be the same for you or for Bawne.
Therefore—give me more work."

"There is plenty of work, unhappily," he said, "because of this calamity
that has fallen upon the nation.  We have notice that a hundred wounded
men from the Front—many of them cot-cases—will arrive at SS. Stanislaus
and Theresa’s at three this afternoon."

"I shall be there!"

"I am not going to try to dissuade you.  I will not keep back what God
has given to me from those who have given so much for England.  There is
another quarter where you will be of use."  His eyes were on the
triptych frame before him.  "I speak of that little Lady
Norwater—Patrine’s friend—I think you have not met?"

"Oh, but I have.  We were made acquainted with each other some weeks ago
at the Club."  Her delicate face contracted.  "That day when the news
came about the British losses.  Just before that poor child Brenda
Helvellyn blurted out the dreadful truth.  Owen, it was tragic.  She had
known it from the beginning——"

"And the sister forbade her to breathe a hint of it.  That is the
attitude of the fashionable Sadducean," said Saxham bitterly, "who not
only denies the Atonement and the Resurrection, but will not admit of

"But," she asked him, "what of Lady Norwater? Patrine tells me she is

"She is ill.  Lord Norwater—at first reported missing after an action
north of Ypres on the —th is now said to have been killed."

Lynette was silent.  Her husband knew why her head was bent and her
white fingers sought a little Crucifix she wore.  She was praying for
the dead man.  Presently she said:

"He was very brave, I believe?’

"He had been recommended for the Victoria Cross for a special service of
great gallantry—rendered during the Battle of the Aisne.  He was a brave
and simple young man, and very lovable.  His wife received the official
intelligence of his death yesterday.  They ’phoned Patrine, as you know,
and sent for me later.  Lady Norwater is expecting her confinement at
the end of November—and they were alarmed for her."

"Poor little soul!  Her baby will be a comfort to her!"

Saxham remembered under what circumstances he had made the acquaintance
of Lady Norwater, and his look was rather grim.  In his mind’s ear he
heard again the sweet little voice saying in its fashionable slang

"Oh no!  I rather cotton to kiddies.  It’s the bother of having ’em
doesn’t appeal.  It puts everything in the cart for the Autumn Season."

Still, the recent remembrance of her piteousness softened the Doctor’s
never very adamantine heart towards her, the humming-bird broken on the
wheel of implacable Fate.  Not unnatural, after all.  More of a woman
than one would have thought her.  How she had clasped her tiny hands
together and entreated him, when the worst was feared for her, to save,
to save her child.

"Franky’s child.  Perhaps—the boy he hoped for.  Oh! to have to say
_hoped_, hurts so dreadfully.  Yes, yes!  I will be brave and good and
quiet....  I will do everything that you say.  Ah, now I know why all
these days I have felt Franky near me, and seen his eyes looking at me
out of every stranger’s face."

Margot did not cry out in her pain and loneliness for her friend Patrine
to come to her, though she sent loving, grateful messages whenever Pat
called or ’phoned.  But she had said to Saxham, only that morning:
"Doctor, I met your wife at the Club not long ago.  She is more
beautiful, but so much sadder than the portrait you showed me.  Ah, yes!
I remember why.  When I am better, would she come and see me?  Perhaps
it is inconsiderate that I should ask.  But the world is so huge and
coarse and noisy and empty"—the little lip had quivered—"and there is
something in her face that is so sweet, I have been fancying that it
would"—-she hesitated—"be good for me and for my baby if she would
sometimes visit me.  Do you think she would mind?"

Saxham had answered:

"I will ask her."  Now he gave the piteous message, and Lynette warmly

"Of course I will go.  Whenever you say I may!"

"Not for some days.  She is to see no one yet, and your hands are full
with Madame van der Heuvel and Marienne and Simonne."  The Doctor
referred to an exiled Belgian lady and her young daughters, who had been
received at Harley Street as guests.  "And—there is the Hospital—and
to-night you have to address this Meeting of Suffragists at the Royal
Hall.  It is the only decision of yours, let me tell you," said Saxham,
"that I ever felt tempted to dispute.  My wife upon the same platform
with Mrs. Carrie Clash and Fanny Leaven!  A triple force of Metropolitan
Police on duty, and detectives at all the exits and amongst the
audience.  It’s—"  Words failed Saxham.

"It is unspeakably hateful in your eyes.  Dear Owen, I know it.  But I
should be hateful in my own sight if I were to break my word.  On the
day I first met you we spoke of these views of mine.  I hold them still.
Marriage has not altered them.  It is not in me," said Lynette, "to

"You are the soul of faithfulness in all things!"

"Then do not be grieved that I keep to my given promise. Those who have
honoured me by asking me to address them are aware that my convictions
are opposed to theirs at points.  But while I oppose I admire their
ruthless devotion and their magnificent, unswerving policy of

"But these felonies," he protested, "these incendiary attacks upon

"In nine cases out of ten, and I believe the authorities know it as well
as the W.S.S.S., such outrages have not been committed by Suffragists at

"By whom, then?"

"Have we no enemies without our gates even now when we are at War?"

"Germans...."  A light broke in upon Saxham. "It’s not impossible.  As
for scattered literature being evidence—that can be bought anywhere.
But granted the blackest sheep of the W.S.S.S. to be proved—piebald,
that will not make me less anxious for you to-night."

He touched a heavy plait of the red-brown hair with a tender hand and
said to her:

"I grudge that the pearls of my wife’s eloquence should be thrown before

"We disagree, dear love," she said to him, "but we do not love the less
for it.  When the Franchise is accorded to Women, should I vote for one
Party and you for another, will that matter a whit to you?"

"Not a whit," he said, as he kissed her.  "You may give your vote to
whom you choose, so long as the voter remains mine.  Who was that?"
Saxham’s quick ear had heard a footstep in the hall.  "Madame van der
Heuvel coming back from Mass?"

"It is Patrine!"

"Patrine off and away at this hour?"

"I told her I would explain to you."

"She has explained to you," said Saxham, "and that should be enough."

"Dear Owen! ... I am sure she wished you to know of it....  She has gone
down to Seasheere, a little Naval Flying-station on the South-East
coast, to meet Alan Sherbrand on the home-flight from Somewhere in

"I see in to-day’s _Wire_ that he has been gazetted Lieutenant," said
Saxham.  "One rather wonders, all things considered, that it has not
happened before."

For not once nor twice in the past weeks the big smudgy contents-bills
hung upon railings and worn as a chest-protector by newspaper-vendors,
since paper became too scarce an article to line street-gutters with,
had trumpeted the name of Sherbrand; and the big black-capitalled
headings had set forth his deeds of daring.  Only to-day they had


"He may be sent back to the Front at any moment—it is natural that they
should wish to be together, don’t you think?"  The speaker added, as
Saxham made no immediate rejoinder: "As they are engaged to be married,
and what is more, engaged with your consent."

"She has told you so?"

"No!"  A shadow of the old smile hovered upon the sensitive mouth.  "I
told her, and she could not deny it.... Oh, Owen!  Do you really believe
I have been blind all this time?"

"I should have known that women have clairvoyance in these matters.  But
Patrine feared that you would think her unfeeling or inconsiderate——"

"And why?  Because when God sent me a great grief He gave my poor girl a
great happiness?  The best earthly happiness, save one, that He holds in
His gift."

"I thank Him that you still think so, after thirteen years of marriage!"

"I shall always think so, Owen.  And it is a great thing that Patrine
has chosen so well.  He is true and brave, and loves my dear sincerely.
And her love is beautiful and disinterested.  There is no taint of
baseness in her——"

"She has nothing of Mildred or of David, then," flashed through the
Doctor’s mind.  Lynette went on:

"No one will ever be able to charge her with venality or mercenariness.
The succession that they _will_ talk of in the newspapers was not
dreamed of when she and Alan fell in love."

"The succession!  Ah, of course!" the Doctor said; "There is a possible
succession to a Viscounty now that Lord Norwater’s death is proved fact,
but only in case Lady Norwater bears no male child.  But a title would
not spoil Sherbrand, and I agree with you that it has never influenced

"How tired you look!" Lynette said, noting the look of heavy care and
the deep lines of weariness traced on the stern visage.

"I have several critical private cases, and a long list of operations
for this morning at SS. Stanislaus and Theresa’s. Now go and dress, my
sweet, for I have work to do."

And Lynette went with a happier look than she had worn since the
crushing blow fell.  And Saxham shot the bolt of his consulting-room
door and went back to his chair at the big writing-table, and leaned his
head upon his hands.

An Atlas burden of care cracked the sinews of the Doctor’s huge
shoulders.  It had not occurred to Saxham when Patrine had gulped out
her pitiful story, and he had heartened her by bidding her forget, that
forgetfulness would speedily be accomplished at the cost of an honest

Now, what to do?  Must Sherbrand take the stranger’s leavings or David’s
girl be twice the loser by the stranger’s lustful theft?  It was a
problem to thrash the brain to jelly of grey matter, thought the Dop
Doctor, drilling his fingertips into his aching temples—were there no
cause for anxiety elsewhere.

Ah! how much more stuffed the pack that burdened the big shoulders.  The
boy had been taken and the mother would die of grief.  You could see her
withering like a white rose held near the blast of a smelting-furnace.
Yet there was nothing to do but look on and play the game.  A bitter
spasm gripped the man by the throat, and slow tears, wrung from the
depths of him by mortal anguish, splashed on the paper between his
elbows and raised great blisters there. Truly, when the spark of Hope
burns dimmest, when the grain of Faith is a thousand times smaller than
the mustard-seed—when God seems most far away, He is nearest.  We have
learned this with other truths, in the War.  Blood and tears mingle in
the collyrium with which our eyes have been bathed, that we might see.

Saxham battled down his weakness, and rose up and went to duty.  None
might guess, looking at the Dop Doctor, that those hard, bright eyes had
wept an hour ago.  Later on, a moment serving, he went to the telephone.

"Halloa!  Is this New Scotland Yard?  M.P.O.?  Halloa! ... I am Dr.
Saxham, speaking from SS. Stanislaus and Theresa’s Hospital, N.W.  Can I
get word with Superintendent-on-the-Executive, Donald Kirwall?  Halloa!
... Thanks, I’ll hold the line."

He waited a minute, and the Superintendent answered:

"Halloa!  Dr. Saxham?  Anything we can do for you, sir?"

"Yes.  Put me on six good plain-clothes men at this Mass Meeting of
Suffragists at the Royal Hall to-night. Can you? ... Halloa! ... I could
do with eight or ten!"

"Halloa! ... Well, sir, we’ll do what we can.  We’ll be pretty strong in
force there, as it happens, Marylebone and Holborn and St. James’s
Divisions...."  Something like an official chuckle came over the line.
"Mrs. Petrell in the chair, and the Clash and Fanny Higgins.  We’ve
learned to look for trouble when they get up to speak. Halloa!  Beg
pardon!  I didn’t quite hear! ..."

Saxham had cursed the popular leaders.

"Yes, I was aware they’d prevailed on Mrs. Saxham to address ’em....
Indeed, they’re advertising her all over the shop....  Halloa? ...
Certainly we’ll put you on the plain-clothes men you ask for.  But even
without Police to protect her, Mrs. Saxham don’t run much risk. Halloa!
... Why! ... Oh! because an uncommon big percentage of the audience on
these packed nights are out-and-out loose women.  Soho and Leicester
Square, and all that lot....  Others come up from Poplar and Stepney and
Bethnal Green and Deptford to hear Fanny Higgins. Halloa?  Do they want
the Vote?  Well, naturally these gay women like the idea of being
Represented in Parliament. If respectable females are going to get good
of it, naturally the prostitutes want the Franchise.  They hold that
Woman Suffrage ’ud improve their conditions.  Halloa! ... You don’t know
but what the gay women have as good a right to vote as the gay men who
employ ’em?  No more don’t I! But whatever they are, they appreciate
those who spend their lives in trying to help the unfortunate.  And,
West or East-Enders—the most chronic cases among ’em wouldn’t suffer a
finger to be laid on your wife.  All the same, I’ll attend to your
instructions.  Doors at 7.  The men shall be there.  Don’t worry
yourself!  Four ready back of the Platform and four more posted right
and left of the proscenium.  Don’t mention it!  Very proud to....

"Good-afternoon and thanks, Superintendent!"

And Saxham rang off, more relieved in mind than he would have cared to
own.  Then the horn of a motor sounded below in the Hospital courtyard,
and another and another followed.  Tyres crackled on gravel.  The
running feet of men pattered on pavement.  The hall-porter whistled up
the speaking-tube into the Medical Officer’s Room, and Saxham went down,
meeting the black-robed Mother Prioress and the Sister Superintendent on
their way to the great vestibule.

                             *CHAPTER LXII*

                        *WOUNDED FROM THE FRONT*

The wide-leaved front doors stood open.  Doctors and surgeons,
theatre-assistants, students, white-habited Sisters,
blue-and-white-uniformed nurses and probationers, were swarming in the
great vestibule.  Already a double stream of canvas stretchers, laden
with still figures swathed in iodined gauze and cotton-wool padding,
were being carried up the wide steps, from the big grey-painted Red
Cross motor-ambulances, by R.A.M.C., and blue-uniformed bearers of St.
Theresa’s Association, while omnibuses, private cars, taxis from Charing
Cross and Victoria were hauled up behind, waiting to disgorge their
loads.  And cheer upon cheer went up from the packed sidewalks and
roadway; handkerchiefs waved from the windows of the nearest houses, and
the passengers on the roofs of the omnibuses passing up and down
Wellington Road, Edgware Road, and Praed Street, stood up and craned
their necks in the fruitless endeavour to glimpse the reason of those
frantic cheers.

For the first convoy of wounded from the Front had reached the Hospital.
These unwashed, begrimed, hairy brigands, these limping tramps in
tattered khaki, these bandaged cripples leading blind comrades, were our
Guards, our Gunners, our Highlanders, Kents, Middlesex men and Munsters,
our Rifles and Northamptons, our Welsh and Gloucesters, our Scots Greys
and Lancers, our immortals of those red-hot days of August, and their
compeers, the terrible fighters of the Marne and the Aisne....

They were back, full of cross-nicked, nickel-coated Mauser bullets, bits
of shell and lumps of shrapnel, cheap jokes, music-hall choruses,
vermin, and spunk.  The reek of lysol and carbolic, the sickly whiff of
dysentery and the ghastly stench of gangrene, brought back to Saxham the
Hospital at Gueldersdorp, as he passed back and forth between the
stretchers, issuing swift orders, briefly wording directions,
marshalling his trained forces with the generalship that had
distinguished him of old.


"What is it, Ironside?"  Saxham turned to speak to the Resident Medical
Officer.  "You look off-colour, man!"

"I feel off, sir.  They’re so damned full of grit, and cheerful! Not
only the cases from the Base Hospitals, but those casualties they’ve
sent us direct from the trenches.... Two days in the train getting to
Calais—and Lord! the straw and filthiness in their wounds!  And we’ve
been told our next War’d be carried out on an absolutely Aseptic Basis,
and here we are back in 1900!"

"Not quite," said Saxham.  "Wounds like these were never made by Boer
shrapnel.  Human bodies shattered beyond imagination by High Explosive,
rank among the triumphs of Modern Science.  After the Stone Age and the
Iron Age, the Golden Age and the Age of Shoddy has come the Age of
Militant Chemistry.  Martianism, in a word."

"It’s an ugly word....  Doctor, that man over there," the speaker
indicated a pair of hollow eyes staring hungrily over a huge
iodine-smeared gauze muffler, "wants to know if we can save his lower
jaw?  Not that there’s much left of it.  His pal, who interprets for
him, says a wounded German officer shot him in the face with his
revolver, ’cos he went to give the blankety blank a drink out of his
water-bottle.  One of the Gunners—and not long married, according to the

"All right, tell him!  Name him for one of my beds," Saxham said
brusquely, and nodded to the owner of the desperate eyes, saying, as
they flared back their gratitude: "Even if it had been 1821 in the
cattle-truck, we’re in the Twentieth Century here.  Warn Burland," he
named the anæsthetist, "for duty at once.  Gaynor Gaynes and Frost to be
ready with the X Ray on Flat I.  Mr. Whitchett and Mr. Pridd to act as
Assistant Surgeons.  We’ll take the worst cases straight away——"

"But, my God, sir! most of these men are beyond Surgery," groaned
Ironside, cracking his finger-joints.  "Broken and mashed and rent as
they are, what they need is to be re-created! ... If Christ were to look
in here just now," the Medical Resident cried in his bitterness,
"there’d be plenty of work in His line.  New tissues to make, bony
structures to re-build.  Organs to replace where organs have been
destroyed.  He’d have done it by mixing earth with His saliva and
anointing.  We might as well spit on twenty per cent. of these
fellows—for all the good we can do!"

"Give them liquid nourishment—brandy where necessary, and send those
I’ve tagged up to the theatre.  No waiting to wash—in their cases.  And
remember my Gunner gets the first look-in!"

Saxham turned and ran at speed, making for the nearest elevator, found
it just going up full of stretcher-cases lying close packed as sardines,
turned and shot up the stone staircase three steps at a time to the
first floor, glittering with white enamel, polished oak, brass fittings
and cleanliness, under the discreet radiance of shaded electric lights.
The centre space was occupied by the tribune engirdling the domed
Sanctuary of the Chapel.  Short corridors tastefully adorned with
red-enamelled buckets, blue glass bombs of chemical fire-extinguisher,
and snaky coils of brass-fitted hose, led to long wards running east,
west, north, and south.

"Eh, Doctor!"

A fair-faced, gentle-eyed Sister of Mercy, in the wide-winged starched
linen cap and guimpe, and white twill nursing-habit with the black
Cross, stood near the lift, talking to a tall, raw-boned, white-haired
Surgeon-General of the R.A.M.C.  She greeted Saxham’s appearance with a
little womanly cry:

"Eh, Doctor!  Never it rains buddit pours."  There was a hint of
Lancashire in her dialect.  "The R.A.M.C. have sent us ten more cases.
Dear, dear!—but we’ll have our hands full."

"Then you’ll be happy, Sister-Superintendent.  I’ve never known you so
beamingly contented as when you were regularly run off your feet, and
hadn’t a minute to say your Rosary.  Anything specially interesting, Sir

"Aweel!"  The broad Scots tongue of Taggart droned the bagpipe-note as
of old.  "Aweel!  There’s an abdawminal or twa I’d like ye to throw your
’ee over—an’ a G.P. that ye will find in your line.  Fracture o’ the
lumbar vairtebra from shrapnel—received ten o’clock yesterday
morr’ning!—an’ some cases o’ shellitis, wi’ intermittent accesses o’
raging mania an’ intervals o’ mild delusions—an’ ane will gar you draw
on the Medical Officer’s Emergency List o’ Abbreviated Observations I
supplied ye wi’ a guid few years agone."

"I’ve not forgotten."

"I’m no’ dootin’ but ye have found it unco’ useful."  Taggart’s frosty
eyelashes twinkled.  "It has saved my ain face from shame mair times
than I daur tell."  He quoted, relishingly: "M.B.A.—Might Be Anything!
G.O.K.—Guid Only Knows!  L.F.A.—Luik for Alcohol. A.D.T.—Any Damned
Thing!  ’Toch, Sister, I beg your parr-don!  The word slipped oot—I have
nae other excuse! But my case o’ shell-shock, Saxham.  What say ye to an
involuntary simuleetion o’ _rigor mortis_?  A man sane an’ sound an’
hale—clampit by his relentless imagination into the shape o’ a Polwheal
Air-Course Finder, or a pair o’ dividers.  Half open, ye ken.  Ye may
stand him on the ground upo’ his feet, an’ his neb is pointing at the
daisies—or ye may lie him o’ his back in bed—an’ his taes are tickling
the stars.  Am thinking it long till I’m bringing ye thegither! But ye
are busied.  I’ll no’ keep ye the noo."

Racing for the second lift, just emptied of its sorrowful burden, the
big shirt-sleeved Doctor checked in his stride and touched the handle of
a sliding door.  The door shot back noiselessly in its grooving.  Saxham
was in a cushioned tribune high above the level of the chapel Altar.
The scent of flowers and the perfume of incense hung like a benison on
the still air of the sacred place.

In one of the carved stalls of the nave the figure of a priest in
cassock and biretta sat reading from a breviary. It was the Chaplain,
waiting in readiness to be called to administer Holy Unction and
Viaticum to some Catholic soul about to depart.  In the choir behind the
high Altar a slight girl, in the frilled cap and prim black gown of the
Novitiate, knelt on a rush-bottomed prie-dieu absorbed in meditation,
her black Rosary twisted round her clasped hands.  Prayers that are most
earnest are frequently incoherent.  Saxham formulated no petition as he
knelt there in the tribune, but the cry of his heart to the Divine
Hearer might have been construed into words like these:

"_If Thou wert here in the visible Body as when of old Thou didst walk
on earth with Thy Disciples, Thou wouldst heal these broken sons of
Thine with Thy look.  Thy Touch, Thy Word! Yet art Thou here—for Thou
hast said it, ever present for Thy Faithful in Spirit, Flesh, and Blood.
Help O Helper!  Heal O Healer!  Lord Jesus, present in the Blessed
Sacrament of the Altar, give power and wisdom to Thy servant.  Aid me,
working in the dark by my little flame of hard-won knowledge, to
preserve life, Thou Giver of Life!  Amen._"

So having prayed, the Dop Doctor went up to the theatre and wrought
mightily, doing wonderful things in the way of patching and botching the
broken bodies of men.  Later, as he sat in the Harley Street dining-room
playing the courteous, attentive host to sad-eyed, wistful Madame van
der Heuvel and her two pretty daughters—for Lynette had dined earlier on
account of the Suffrage Meeting—he heard a latch-key in the front-door
and Patrine’s well-known step in the hall.

He excused himself, rose and went out, and spoke to his niece.  She made
a croaking sound in answer, as unlike the voice of Patrine as the
pinched and sunken face revealed by the hall electroliers, resembled the
face of dead David’s handsome girl.  The mouth hung lax.  The cheeks had
fallen.  The eyes stared blank and tearless, from hollow caves under the
broad black eyebrows.  He said with a pricking of foreboding:

"You have had a long day! ..."

"Not long enough to tire me.  I am made of india-rubber, I think, and

He considered her a moment with grave, keen eyes that had no gleam of

"Sherbrand is well?  He returned from France in safety?"

"He was quite in the pink when he arrived—and ditto when he left.  Not
that he had much time.  A wireless came, ordering him to replace an
aviator of the Royal Flying Corps, killed on observation-duty—or
whatever it is they call it—with our fellows on the new Front.  Rough on
him, but he took it smiling.  No, thanks!  I’m not keen on dinner....
You won’t mind if I go to my room?"

"One moment.  Have you had food to-day?" he asked her.

"I forget....  Yes, of course!  There was luncheon at one o’clock.  The
people at the Air Station did us tremendously well."  Her mouth twisted.
"I think it better to tell you and Lynette that Alan Sherbrand and I
have said ta-ta!"  She tried to smile.  "I’m back on your hands like a
bad penny!"  Her eyes seemed all black between their narrowed lids.

They were quite alone, no servant within hearing, and the dining-room
door was shut.  Came the Doctor’s low-toned question:

"Has any—third person made mischief between you two?"

"No, nobody has blabbed to him about anything.  But—he’s wise enough
now, as regards this child.  Particularly wide-O!"  The black,
glittering eyes looked dry and hard as enamel.  Her teeth again showed
in that mirthless grin. "I don’t suppose he has the ghost of an illusion
left.... Women—most women would say I was a howling fool to make a clean
breast of it.  I never meant to—I can swear!—when first we got engaged.
I used to call his goodness stodgy.  I think I despised him for it in
certain moods of mine.  You’ve never realised the kind of beast I can
be. But more and more, I got to respect him!  And suddenly—I knew that
if I married him under false colours—letting him believe me to be what I
amn’t—even though he never found me out—I’d—never have been able to
shake hands with myself again!"

She moved to the stairs, the sleeve of her coat brushing the Doctor’s
great shoulder.

"Don’t you suppose God had it all his own way," she said in that odd,
strangled voice that wasn’t like Patrine’s. "There were minutes when the
World, and the Flesh, and the Devil were jolly well to the fore.  Alan
would marry me to-morrow if I used the power I _could_ use.  But I
won’t! I won’t!  It’d not be playing the decent, straight game. So I let
him call me heartless, and piffle like that, and then the game seemed
hardly worth playing.  I’d have thrown up my cards—only the Recall came.
And we said good-bye, and I saw him fly away like a great white bird,
over the water.  And I’m so strong—so horribly strong—that I stood it
and didn’t die....  Even if Alan’s killed at the Front I shan’t die....
_Ah-h!_ ... You mustn’t touch me!"  Her hands plucked themselves
violently from Saxham’s that would have enfolded them.  "I could stand
anything better than pity.  Being pitied would kill me—though I’m so
awfully strong!"

"Then trust us not to pity you—only to love you.  That I look upon you
as a daughter is no secret to you, I think?"

"No, dear!"  She stroked his sleeve, not lifting her pitifully reddened
eyelids, and then he felt her start. "Uncle Owen!"  Her hand clenched
upon his arm, and her tear-blurred eyes sought his.  "I must tell
you....  He had news to give me to-day—of Bawne!"

"Nothing worse, thank God!—than what I know already," Saxham commented
when she had told.  He stood in silence a moment, mastering himself, and
the electric hall-light showed in his harsh square visage the ravages
that grief had wrought.

"How you have suffered!  If only I could do something to comfort you!"
she muttered.  "And Lynette.  Do you know—there are days"—a sob caught
her breath—"when I daren’t even look at Lynette."

"It is so with me!"  His voice was deep and quiet and sorrowful.  "Old
Webster probed deep with his Elizabethan goose-quill, when he wrote of

    "Greyfe that wastyth a faire woman
    Even as wax doth waste yn flame."

Pray for us both, my dear, and believe that you are a comfort to us."

She said with a laugh that was half a sob: "I might have made a hole in
the water at Seasheere, or jumped out of the train on the way back, I
daresay, but for the thought of you both.  Or, if it wasn’t that stopped
me, my joss was on the job."

"I had rather say your Guardian Angel."

"Do you think any self-respecting Guardian Angel could possibly bother
about a regular bad egg like me?"

"Mine did—when my wife married me and I was a peculiarly bad egg."

"You, you dear!"  She suddenly caught him round the neck and hugged him
strenuously.  "Do you think I don’t know—haven’t always known how my
father and mother treated you!"

"Time heals wounds of that kind," said Saxham, as they turned together
from the foot of the staircase, and, still keeping a protecting arm
about David’s daughter, he reached his hat and stick from the
hall-stand, "though you may doubt the statement now."

"I can’t.  I’d only have to look at mother to——"

"To remember that she is your mother!"

His tone was final in its closure of the subject.  But in his heart he
thanked frail Mildred once again for her ancient treachery, as he went
out to the waiting car, and sped through London’s murky streets to the
North-West suburb where stands the Hospital.

Patrine went upstairs, holding by the balusters and feeling chilly and
old.  In the prettily furnished sitting-room, communicating with her
chintzy bedroom, were her letters, and a deep cardboard box stood upon a
table.  It had been sent on to Harley Street from the Club, and bore the
address of a Regent Street florist, whose showy establishment boasted a
German name.

The fragrance of roses with a musky after-tang in their sweetness
permeated the atmosphere.  There were no roses amongst the flowers on
the chimney-shelf and cabinets.  It occurred to Patrine that there must
be roses in the box.

Her head was throbbing and her eyes smarted.  She threw off her hat and
coat, pitched them down upon the chintzy sofa, switched off the electric
lights, let up the blinds, pulled a chair close to the open window, and
sat down, resting her folded arms on the clean, dustless sill.

Sitting there, staring out into the semi-obscurity of Harley Street,
with the late cabs and motors sliding past and the distant roar of
Oxford Street in her ears, she asked herself:

"Have I behaved like an honourable woman or—a blithering idiot?  That’s
what I want to know?"

She waited.  Not one pat on the back was vouchsafed by an approving
Conscience.  The indicator of the dial slowly travelled in the direction
of the blitherer.  Patrine shut her hot, dry eyes, and began to conjure
up the day that had gone over.  Its sweetness was rendered infinitely
sweeter, its bitterness a hundredfold more poignant by the knowledge
that it was the last, the very last.

If she lived to be old, old, old, she knew she would never live to
forget Seasheere.  The smell of the hot thyme and sun-baked grasses of
the cliffs, the rhythmic _frrsh!_ of the salt waves upon its shingle,
the shrill piping of its gulls, and pale blue of its skies would never
fade, never cease, never be silent, never alter....  For on Seasheere
cliffs her Wind of Joy had blown for the last time.

                            *CHAPTER LXIII*

                         *BAWNE FINDS A FRIEND*

The machine that could hover like Sherbrand’s "Bird of War" had come
down in the Market Place.  A big grey two-seater monoplane, with the
rounded cleft bird-tail and wings of the German Taube type.  You could
see a number on its side and three big black Maltese crosses, and the
profile heads of pilot and passenger showing up in strong relief against
the blackened ruins of the Town Hall.

A bomb hung in its wire cage-holder on the visible side of the fuselage.
It struck Franky that the airman must be profoundly sure of himself, or
culpably reckless to have come down before getting rid of the thing.  A
swivel-mounting like a barless capital A supported a machine-gun above
the radius of the tractor, and well within reach of the pilot’s hand.

The pilot got down.  He was tall and big, with a red moustache; a man
whose natural height and bulk were so augmented by the padded helmet
topped with the now-raised goggles, the pneumatic jacket girt in by a
broad band of webbing, supporting a brace of large revolvers, and the
heavy bandolier he carried, that the figure of his companion, scrambling
after him, seemed that of a mere dwarf.

The man who saw, _per_ medium of the rakishly-angled looking-glass yet
hanging on the wall of the wrecked parlour, conceived a horror of the
Troll-like creature in its big helmet, and the full-sized oilskins that
hung in folds about its diminutive body, the skirts reaching nearly to
the ground.  When the two passed beyond the mirror’s area of reflection,
the doubt whether they might not have discovered his whereabouts and be
stealthily creeping up from the rear to attack him, made him shudder,
and brought the perspiration starting in the hollows of his sunken
temples and cheeks.

Minutes passed.  He waited with his eyes upon the mirror.  Someone was
approaching from the direction of the Market Place, keeping well under
the broken walls of the houses fringing the narrow _trottoir_.  Where an
avalanche of tiles and brickwork had fallen, he must perforce skirt the
obstacle, and thus for an instant be reflected in the glass. Meanwhile
the sound of nearing footsteps—sometimes muffled in thick dust, or
clicking over cobblestones, or tripping and stumbling among bricks and
rubble—grew more distinct.  The red-moustached giant could not walk so
lightly.  It must be the Troll—could be no one but the Troll!  The
suspense of waiting had tensed into unbearable agony when the sound of a
voice crying broke out in the deathly silence of the place.

"Oh, oh!"  Like a woman or a child’s uncontrolled wailing.  "Oh—the poor
men!  Oh, the poor women and the li-ittle ch-ildren!  Oh!" and _da
capo_, working up to a crescendo of agony, and dying away in
heartbreaking sobs. It was so strange—not that there should be weeping
in these razed and ravaged streets, but that the voice that wept should
be a voice of England—that it begot in the helpless man who heard doubts
of his own sanity, and a reckless desire to dissipate such doubts.  He
heard himself call out: "Who is crying there?"

And a treble voice piped back, and stumbling over the moraine of
_débris_ tongueing from the avalanche of broken tiles and masonry,
came—not the Troll-dwarf in his huge disguising helmet and outsized
pneumatic jacket—but an urchin of twelve or thirteen—in the familiar
dress of a Boy Scout—minus the smasher hat and staff.

"Me for the gay old life!" meditated Franky.  "Thought I was getting
groggy in the upper works—and now I know it!  A British Boy Scout in his
little khaki shirt, with a row of gadgets on his left sleeve, and ribbon
tags to his little garters, all on his little lone in the middle of
this—Gehenna!"  He spoke to the fever that galloped through his veins in
the tone of a patron presiding at the test-display of a Cinema Film
Company: "Pretty good, but you can do better.  Roll along with a troop
of blue-eyed Girl Guides, old Touch-and-Go!"

The Scout’s figure vanished out of the glass.  There was a sound of
scratching and scrambling.  The broken floor jarred to the impact of a
light body, and a boyish treble called:

"Is—is anybody here?  Anybody—English?"

The voice quavered on the last word.  Franky knew that this was
delirium.  He grinned under his four-days’ beard, and the grime and soot
and plaster that masked him, and answered in a series of Bantu clicks,
so leather-dry was his tongue:

"Me as per descrip: to fol: Young British sossifer of good fam: irrepro:
ref: and tophole edu: badly dam: by Hun shell!  Greatly in need of the
com: of a ref: Chris: ho: Mus: in the eve: and intell: conver: greatly
appre:"  He shut his stiff eyelids and opened them again, but the
imaginary Scout had not gone.

"You’re dreadfully—hurt.  Couldn’t I do—something?" the treble voice
piped.  Its owner was now squatting on his heels in the shade of
Franky’s penthouse of planks.  The knuckles he rested on the floor were
cracked and grimy, and his deeply-freckled, fair-complexioncd face was
lined, and anxious and thin.  His blue eyes were swollen with crying,
though his sensitive lips wore a wistful, crooked smile. "You _are_
real?" he asked wistfully, and Franky answered, huskily:

"Rather!  In fact, I’m a lot more real than you.  Who are you, since
we’re gettin’ personal?"  He repeated slowly after the boy:

"’Bawne Mildare Saxham, Scout No. 22.  Fox Patrol, 331st London W.’
Seems good enough."  He shut his hot eyes wearily.  "But if you’re
solid—you’d get me a drink!"

There was a little stir.  The Scout had gone.  Franky knew it without
opening his eyes, yielding to the deadly sinking faintness engendered by
the effort of speech.  A mountainous weight crushed his chest, and his
legs were cold and heavy as ingots of pig-iron.  It occurred to him that
at this rate the—wind-up—could not be far off.  And a great horror fell
upon him like a pall, and cold sweat broke forth and streamed upon his
haggard face and broken body. Death for one who so loved Life and the
pleasant things of a commonplace existence....  A cricket-match, a day
with the hounds, a funny _revue_, a game of polo, a break at billiards,
a clinking run with the car, a fine cigar.  Mess in camp after the hard
day’s march, long, cool drinks with bits of ice tinkling in the tumbler.
That new, fierce pleasure tasted in his first experience of real
fighting....  And oh! how much sweeter than these the scent of Margot’s
hair, the light of Margot’s eyes, the clasp of her arms about his neck,
the hope of fatherhood, never now to be realised....

"My little chap!" he muttered, and his heart wept, but no tears came to
his arid eyes.  Then something cold touched his mouth.  The rim of a cup
with water in it. "Thank you!" he said, after a gulping draught, opening
his eyes with the sense of reviving coolness stealing through his
parched vitals.  "That’s—absolutely IT!"

The boyish treble said with a quaver in it:

"If I set this can beside you—I got the water from the pipe that is
running—and the broken cup near it, could you manage to dip it in?  Are
you able to move this hand?"

"First class!" whispered Franky, lifting the member a very little way
and dropping it again.  "The—the other arm came in for it when the
shrapper hit me in the ribs.... Halloa!  Chocolate," for a bit touched
his lips and was gently pushed between them.  "That reminds me. I’ve an
iron ration somewhere about me.  No—they took my pack off when I got
crumped up."  It had seemed only—decent to Franky in those days of
endless foot-slogging, to carry a pack and a Lee-Enfield and fare no
better than his men.  "Frightfully obliged.  But I won’t take this."
This being another scrap of chocolate.  "Is thy servant a Boche that he
should stodge kid’s grub?"

"You’re English!"  The blue eyes were full of hungry worship.  "Man
alive!" quavered the boyish treble, "you don’t know how I’ve wanted to
hear an English voice again. Tell me"—he panted and was pale under his
multitudinous freckles, and the beating of the childish heart shook the
thin young frame—"the Germans haven’t beaten England—and sunk our Navy,
and wiped out our Army—and killed the King, and Lord Roberts, and the
Chief Scout, and Lord Kitchener, and—and my father and mother and

"No!" said the wounded man, and his faint whisper was as convincing as
though the negative had been shouted with the full strength of vigorous
lungs.  "Is that the kind of lie they’ve been pitching you?  Perhaps it
does ’em good to believe it!  Let ’em, if they like.  It’ll never be

"I knew it couldn’t!"  The clear treble had lost its quaver.  "And yet
there were times when I was funky.  _He_ seemed so awfully sure at—the
beginning!  And—the Enemy never stops—rubbing it in!"

"Who is the Enemy?"

"His name is von Herrnung.  And—and I must go now, for—for your sake."
The eyes flickered, and their pupils dilated to wide circles of
frightened blackness.  "He might wake up—and come—and find you.  And if
he found you——"

When the arteries have been almost depleted by hæmorrhage, and the
strength of the body has ebbed to vanishing point, the brain is
sometimes dazzlingly clear.  Thus, though the faint whisper barely
reached the ear of the other, the haggard eyes looking out of the
begrimed and unshaven face of the man lying in the blood-soaked
stretcher were alert and observant.  He said reassuringly:

"He won’t come just yet.  Tell me more about him, and all about

How strangely lined and pinched and puckered was the young face with its
clear red-and-white sprinkled over with brown freckles.  Fine dust of
dew-beads started upon forehead and temples and cheeks, the half-opened
mouth twitched nervously, though he thrust out his under-jaw and knitted
his reddish brows in a gallant effort of self-control.

"His name is von Herrnung.  He is the German Field Flight officer who
took me away from England.  I wrote down the date in my Scout’s
pocket-book so that I mightn’t forget.  It was July 18th.  He was trying
Mr. Sherbrand’s hawk-hoverer at Hendon.  He asked me to go up with

"Great Snipe!" panted Franky weakly.  "Are YOU the boy who dropped the
wallet with the Clanronald Papers and the scratched message in the North

The blue eyes understood.  "There was a wallet," said their owner.  "I
don’t know what was inside, of course. But he——"

A spasm of trembling went through the slender body.  He bent his head,
and blinked his eyes, and the muscles of his throat and jaw worked as
though he fought down an hysterical access of tears.  And a broad shaft
of golden light, falling on the young bare head, showed how the shining
red-brown hair had been roughly clipped in ridges, leaving a
forehead-tuft oddly streaked with white.  Amongst the crowds of homeless
exiles endlessly streaming along the roads of this scourged and tortured
country, or crouching amongst the wreckage of its ruined villages and
battered towns, heads even younger than this boy’s had displayed the
tragic sign.

"Poor kid!" Franky muttered, recognising it as the result of
overwhelming physical shock and unnatural mental strain.  "He knew what
was inside? ..."

"I don’t think so!  If he had known when the submarine picked us up in
the North Sea—I think he would have killed me!  He would like to kill me
now, he says"—the apple in the boy’s throat jerked—"because through me
he has been _degradiren_—reduced from Captain to Supernumerary Officer
Pilot—and has had his Third Class of the Red Eagle taken away!  That was
done at the big Wireless Station—Nordeich, they called it——"

"Nordeich....  Of course ... in German West Friesland. Thrash along—I’m
following you.  Did they Court Martial the Flying Man?" Franky
whispered; and Bawne whispered back:

"The Emperor punished him! ..."

"The Emperor, did you say? ..."

"Yes.  He came to Nordeich—in—I’ve forgotten what they call it when
great people want to move about without red carpets and lots of fuss."


"Incognito.  He’d broken off his yachting-trip in Norwegian waters—and
landed at Kiel only that day.  I heard men whisper it....  He was
dressed in the field-grey, like his War Minister von Falkenhayn—-and his
generals of the Imperial Staff—and all the other officers and men.  But
he ’stripped off the War-harness,’—that’s what they called it!—before he
got into the Potsdam train."

"Go on! ... What did he look like? ... They say he has changed a lot o’

"I couldn’t tell.  I’d only seen photos that made him look younger and
hid his short arm.  But even if he hadn’t sat while the others stood—and
worn the Iron Cross, Grand Class—and the Black Eagle with diamond swords
and a Crown Imperial—I’d have known it was the Emperor, by his eyes."

"By his eyes, you say! ..."

The boy’s heart throbbed visibly, the breath came in short puffs through
his nostrils, and his lips were twisted awry as he smiled.  The smile
stiffened out as he nodded. "By his awful eyes! ... When they looked at
you they made you feel tired, and empty, and—queer.  But when they got
angry—you were reminded of—of a tiger lurking to spring out of a cave of

"Ah!  So he got angry, did he?"

Bawne nodded.

"When I wouldn’t answer the questions he asked me—he talked
English—about how the brown satchel had come unstrapped and tumbled into
the sea.  And he said to an officer: ’Show him your whip!’—and he
did—and it was short-stocked and covered with leather, like a
dog-whip—with three thongs strung with little balls of lead.  Man alive!
you ought to see my back.  Though they only hit me once!"  He winced,
and flushed, and paled.  "I was a coward to squeal—though when they
asked: ’Will you tell now?’ I _did_ say: ’Not to stop you from killing

"Good egg you!  Great Snipe!—if I’d been there.  With a Service
Revolver—!  Never mind....  Go on!"

"I forget....  Oh!—they pulled on my shirt and gave me some strong stuff
to drink.  Corn brandy, I think it was—and then He got up and came round
the table and began to talk to me.  He said I must not be an obstinate
boy, for in another few days there would be War.  Our pitiful little
Army’d be wiped out and our Fleet sent to the bottom of the sea.  The
British Isles would be _Deutsch Brittanien_—and English people who would
not swear to be good Brito-German subjects of their new Emperor and
Overlord would be instantly put to death.  But if I told up about the
brown satchel I would be permitted to live, and possibly my parents
also.  If I said No!—nothing would be left but to call back the officer
with the whip."

"Coaxin’, wasn’t he?  And what did you tell him?"

"I said: ’You’ve only said you’re going to conquer England, Sir.  You
haven’t done it yet!"

It was not merely the treble voice of a courageous child answering.  It
was the utterance of a race untamable and indomitable.  Franky could
hear the metal balls on the whip clink one against another as the loaded
thongs were shaken out....  He whispered with dry lips:


"Then I don’t quite know.  I was sick and sleepy, and the blood was
running down my back under my shirt.  If they had killed me I wouldn’t
have cared much.  Perhaps he saw that, for he called up von Herrnung.
He was not to be dismissed from the Field Flying Service—because of the
War that was coming!—but he was to forfeit his Order of the Red Eagle
and rank as a Supernumerary Officer Pilot. Man alive!—you should have
seen how that big man squirmed and crawled and blubbered."  The young
lips curled, and the jaw thrust out contemptuously.  "’Thanks!
Gratitude! ... My blood to prove devotion! ... All I ask—the service of
danger—the reconnaissance under enemy fire!’  And the Emperor——"

"Kicked him, I hope!"

"No, he said: ’Supernumerary Officer Pilot von Herrnung you will now to
your Flying Headquarters return.  Let it be your task to win back at the
cost of a thousand lives—if you had them—the lost esteem of your
Emperor.  Take this boy with you.  Make of him a decent German.  It is
"up to you," as the English say.’  And then the Wireless went ’_S’ss!
Crackle!  Pzz!_’ and the telephone-bell said ’_Pr’rr!_’ and the room was
cleared—they said because of a Call from the Winter Palace at

"And where did they take you after you left the Wireless Station?  Go
on—I’d like to hear you tell!"

The boy glanced round uneasily and then mastered his apprehensions.  The
grimed hands went to his stocking-top and pulled out a squat little
book.  The coloured presentment of a Boy Scout adorned its soiled
leather cover, and the thumbed leaves of the diary within were pencilled
from end to end.  The Odyssey of a Saxham Pup, one might have called the
story whispered into the ear of the wounded man by the boy squatting at
his side.

One had been taken by train to Bremen and thence to a place called
Taubefeld, in West Hessen.  Flight Station XXX was here on a vast
stretch of heath.  There were rows of great hangars, and a vast army of
motor floats and lorries, upon which machines, hangars,
telegraph-installations, workshops, mess-houses, and quarters for
officers and mechanics, could be placed when the mobilisation-order came
and transported by road or rail.

One had fallen sick at Taubefeld—the effects of that North Sea ducking.
One had waked up with a skin-cropped head wondering where one was.  A
woman who helped in the cookhouse had given one broth and gruel and the
medicine prescribed by the doctor.  One had crawled off one’s straw
palliasse weakly and shakily, and so won forth into a new, unfriendly

One’s parole had been taken—and one was thenceforth free to move about
and see things—when one was not wanted to help oil or clean wires or
sweep up the hangars. There was grub enough: bacon-soup, potato-salad,
and sausage, queer but not uneatable.  Nobody was really brutal as long
as one didn’t speak English, or even German with a British accent, too
much at one time.  _Keine Unterhaltung da!_ ("No conversation there!")
some officer or N.C. would yell at one, and the rebuke was generally
accompanied by the swishing cut of a cane.

Consequently the Saxham Pup had bent himself to acquire German, as
spoken by Germans, and schooled himself to employ his eyes and ears
while maintaining economy in the use of his tongue.  He had found out
his whereabouts from an envelope he had picked up, and other things from
listening to the officers’ conversation, and the talk of the mechanics
in the big hangars.

War was the thing everybody talked about.  There was going to be bloody
War in a twinkling.  The German Navy was going to smash the British Navy
into matchwood, everybody was quite sure.  The German Army was going to
walk over the miserable little British Army—and then would be expiated
the sins of the British Government and the diabolical plottings of Sir
Edward Grey.  Throat-cuttings, shootings, and hangings were mentioned in
connection with the above, and other personages whom British Boy Scouts
hold in reverence.  But one had had to bear it and hold one’s tongue,
and keep smiling.  That was the method of the Chief who had said to one:
"Quit yourself like a man."

Brave advice, possible to follow by day when alien eyes were watching.
One could choke down weak tears and the ache of the lonely heart that
cried for Home and the dear familiar faces, when the Birds of War were
roaring and whirring up the night-field or down out of the sky.  But at
night, in the grim, unfriendly dark of the sleeping-cupboard, without
other witness than the thin, sore-eyed white kitten that shared one’s
meals and slept beside one on the hard straw mattress under the
foul-smelling grey blanket,—things were harder.  One had got through,
after a fashion, by "rotting" and making believe.  One did not set down
in the Scout’s Note-Book or tell the wounded friend on the stretcher how
one had kissed the back of one’s own hand, and whispered, "Good-night,
Mother!" and touched one’s cheek with the tips of two fingers and
whispered, "Good-night, and God keep and bless you, my darling boy!"

Amongst other things of interest picked up by day, one found out that
Supernumerary Officer Pilot von Herrnung was cold-shouldered by the
officers of the Flight Squadron, which he had captained before his fall.
No longer top-dog, he was made to pay for his domineering and
swaggering. He resented this, by swaggering more.  The men talked of
this in the hangars, as they tuned-up wires or cleaned the engines.  Von
Herrnung was _Unglücklich_.  Nobody liked him.  The Squadron would not
stand him long.  Hadn’t he insulted the Herr Squadron-Captain Pilot who
had succeeded and challenged him, and got his cartel back again?

"Colossal insolence!" he had fumed.  "A challenge from a person of my
rank confers an honour on him who receives it.  Not a man among you
stands upon my level.  Deny it if you can!"

"True, very true!" the Lieutenant-Observer who had brought back the
challenge was reputed to have retorted. "Not a man among us has ever
been degraded, therefore, Herr Supernumerary Officer, you stand alone.
And we of the Field Flight do not regard your presence among us as a
distinction.  You may possibly conceive that?"

He had said it just as though he had had a stink under his nose,
according to the narrator.  And he had dropped von Herrnung’s letter on
von Herrnung’s table, wiped his fingers ostentatiously upon his
handkerchief, given the ghost of a salute—wheeled and gone out.  After
that the whilom favourite of Fortune had turned sullen and solitary, and
developed such desperate recklessness that men funked to fly with him.
Subsequently the Bird of War hovering-gear having, after due examination
by Government experts, been relinquished to its captor, he had had the
mechanism adapted to a Taube monoplane, and thenceforward made Her
Dearest the sharer of his flights.

You are to suppose Bawne snatching fearful joys in the realisation of
cherished ambitions.  Loathing and fearing, he yet admired the big
red-haired man, so superbly brave in the air that seemed his natural
element.  Equally the man, detesting the child, grudgingly acknowledged
his courage and obedience.  No queerer companionship may have been than
this between the Enemy, and the son of Saxham and Lynette.

When the Flight Squadron shifted to Aix-la-Chapelle, a huge seething
caldron of military preparation,—"Does England declare War against us?"
people asked the Flight officers.  "It is probable," they answered,
"_Gott sei danke!_"  Upon the Third of August, starting at night, Bawne
had made a long flight with the Enemy.  At midnight the Taube had
hovered over a great, beautiful city twinkling with millions of electric

"That is Brussels you see down there," shouted von Herrnung through the
voice-tube.  "The city is _en fête_ because of the agreement arrived at
between the Emperor and the Belgian King.  That means England has lost a
friend, and made another enemy.  Do you understand, little English

And von Herrnung, who had brought a Wireless outfit, had busied himself
in picking up messages from a low-powered installation at the German
Embassy and transmitting them to Somebody, high in authority, who waited
at Berlin.  He had grown more and more peeved as he went about his
business, Bawne could not tell why but Franky understood quite well.

Belgium had not been content that the Red Cock should perch upon her
British neighbour’s roof, while her own house remained unscathed by
fire.  Franky smiled, knowing this to have been the burden of the song
sung by the tuned sparks.  Broad day had found the big city humming with
mobilisation, enormous placards printed in the National Colours, with:
"BELGIUM REFUSES!" and "ROI, LOI, LIBERTÉ," posted in all the public
places—and a park of heavy Artillery concentrated round the Etterbeek
Barracks, as von Herrnung had flown back to Aix-la-Chapelle on the
morning of August 4th.

Bawne went on:

The Flight Squadron had been attached to a Field Artillery Division of
the Second Corps, under a General named von Kluck.  A huge man he, with
a square head and a big mouth full of broken teeth.  Bawne had
previously seen him at the Wireless Station where he had been taken on
landing from the submarine.

They had seen little of the aviation-base, from the beginning of
hostilities.  The Powers that Were had promptly taken von Herrnung at
his word.  For him were the long-distance flights, the delicate and
risky missions, the dangerous reconnaissances over the Allied batteries.
Driven by that gadfly of desire to regain the lost distinctions, he
seemed to have lost all sense of fear and to bear a charmed life.

Thus, while von Kluck’s Advance was opposed at Mons by the stubborn
thrust of the British Forces, the Buzzard earned his nickname by his
tireless quest for Death.  It eased his grudge against mankind to hunt
men—and he hunted; hovering and observing, wirelessing and spotting,
utilising one machine for many purposes,—in those days when War Flying
was as yet in its infancy—sniped at by the sharpshooters of four out of
seven British Divisions—often waging, with automatic pistol and Krupp
machine-gun, fierce battles with other Paladins of the Wing, on the
boundless lists of air.

How many times the boy’s heart had cried for pity when some brave bird
crippled by a spout of lead, or fired by an explosive bullet, had gone
spinning earthwards, showing the Three Crosses of the Union Jack, or the
blue-white-red circles of France’s tricolour—or the red-black-yellow of
the Belgian Flag upon its upper and under-wings as it fell.

They had bombed Paris two days before, and bombed Ypres that morning,
starting from a Flying Base near the city of Bruges.  Bawne knew the
place was Ypres because it was marked in red on the roller-map.  The
British General Headquarters were supposed to be there.  All the bombs
had been used except two, and the Enemy must have forgotten to get rid
of these before he landed.  He was generally careful, but not so when he
drank much.  And lately he had drunk a good deal, there was so much wine
in the country.  He had come down and gone into the restaurant to quest
for food and champagne.  If he found, he would eat hugely and drink
heavily, and then sleep himself sober.  He always slept after a bout
before taking to the air again.  But sometimes when he had mixed drinks
he got savage instead of sleepy, and then——

"Do you mean that he thrashes you?" Franky interjected here.

"Rather!  Just look!"

There were bright red, newly-made weals and brown and purplish old ones
on the little muscular, boyish arm from which the speaker stripped the

"My back and legs are lots worse," he volunteered with the air of a
showman.  "I sometimes think he’d like to kill me.  But he won’t"—the
blue eyes were shrewd under the white-streaked forelock—"because of what
the Emperor said."

"’Take the boy with you and make of him a decent German.’  For fear of
your being sent for, he—  Yes, I understand! ... My Christmas!" Franky
whispered, opening his haggard eyes, and the fire that burned in them
scorched up the water, "If I only had the use of this bashed-up body I’d
jolly soon put the fear of God into the howling brute!"  His uncertain
hand fumbled about the butt of his Webley and Scott revolver.  "Shoot
him—and make tracks for Headquarters with you in his Taube.  Can’t fly
for monkey-nuts though.  Can you?"

"A little."  There was a lightening of pleasure in the sombre depths of
the blue eyes.  "He lets me do plain, straight flying when he’s sending
Wireless, or photographing or observing.  I’ve never started from the
ground yet, or done a landing, though I’m sure I could if I tried.  _He_
has shown me lots and lots.  And I do what he tells me."  The forehead
knitted under the ragged piebald forelock.  "He bluffs about shooting me
if I don’t obey.  But before I drink brandy or do other things that are
blackguardly—or throw bombs on the British and the Allies, he _shall_
kill me! I’ve told him—and he knows I’ll keep my word."

"I pipe.  And can’t you manage to do a flip on your own," came back in
the nearly extinguished voice from the sunken chest of the helpless
figure on the blood-soaked stretcher.  "One o’ these fine days when von
Thingamy isn’t wide?  What’s to hinder your getting away now and pushing
South to meet the British Advance-guard?  We blew up the bridge when we
left the town, but it’s up to you to swim the river.  Or cross with a
barrel or a plank."

"Yes.  And I’ve often planned to bunk it!  But—Man alive!—he’s
frightfully clever.  He knows a Scout sticks to his Word of Honour—and
he always asks for my Parole."

"F’f!  That’s a poser, old son."  Franky considered. "If I were in your
shoes I’d take to givin’ the strictly limited parole.  Two hours—or
three—or four....  There’s a chance if the time expires without
renewal—of being able to—perpetuate a strictly honourable bunk.  So,
best Kid, live in hopes and watch out for chances, and one day——"

The speaker’s voice trailed off into indistinctness.  A deadly vertigo
came upon him.  He sank amidst swirling waves of grey nothingness, to
emerge after æons, to consciousness of the morning sunshine, and the
warm rain dropping on his clammy cheek and hand.

"Oh, oh!  I thought you were dead!"  It was the wailing voice he had
heard long ages back.  "Like all the other people....  The poor men and
women and the little children——"

"Dead!  Not a bit of it!  Only shamming for a drink," Frankly whispered,
as the cup with its blessing of cool water revisited his baked lips:
"Look here.  Where did you tell me your Flying Devil was?"

The boy said, with a scared glance through the breached front wall of
the baker’s parlour, out into the street where the golden sunshine
played upon War’s havoc and desolation:

"I said he went into the restaurant in the square where the—the dead
people are piled up—to hunt about for wine."

"I remember.  What’s that?"

The gaunt eyes rolled towards the yawning gap where once had been the
window.  The white lips whispered, "Did you hear?  I’ll swear somebody

Both held their breath.  Not a sound reached them except the sliding of
some _débris_ from a pile of shattered masonry, and the gurgling of the
water in the broken street-main.  Franky mustered breath and went on:

"And now shake hands and scoot, my son, for this spot isn’t healthy.
Say ’Good-bye and God bless you!’  And—if you didn’t mind—you might kiss
me"—the uninjured hand lifted clumsily and pointed—"here on my
forehead.... Steady on!  Hold hard!  Thumbs up, old man!"

For sobs were racking the thin young frame, and the bright tears were
running.  He gasped out:

"I—I—can’t go away and leave you—to—to die all alone!"


The dreadful word, at last, dropping with a dull shock through the
wounded man’s consciousness as a heavy stone sinks through deeps of
black water.  Swirling rings of mist in Franky’s brain, threatened to
close down and blot out all things.  He thrust back the grey menace of
unconsciousness with a brave effort, whispering:

"Die....  Rats!  What are you—talking about?  It’s me for the gay life
every time!  All I’ve—got to do is to lie here—and—wait until they fetch
me....  They’re coming—before to-morrow morning—give you my solemn

"You’re sure?"

"Dead sure.  Look here—can you remember my name was Norwater?  Captain,
First Battalion Bearskins Plain?"  The stumbling voice went on as the
boy nodded: "Well then, I’d like you to put in a word for me when you
say your prayers, sometimes.  I might have a little chap of my own,
by-and-by, to do that for his Pater.  What’s this, best child?"

A black wooden Crucifix with the Figure of Our Lord in white plaster was
being held close to the dimming eyes.

"It’s a Crucifix.  I think it must have fallen down from the room that
was above here.  Won’t you keep it—to help you through the
night-time—just as the one on my Rosary helps me? ..."

"Good egg!  Do you pray to it—and kiss it?"

"We pray—not to it, but to Our Lord who died for us and lives in Heaven.
We kiss it—because even if it isn’t pretty it is His Image—and has been
blessed by a priest."

"Wipe my mouth first, please.  You’ll find—hanky in my pocket.  Thanks!"
He asked, after his discoloured lips had touched the Feet of the
Crucified: "Isn’t there something one ought to say?  A prayer—or
something!  Not much time now—before they fetch me.  Tell quick—what
words say!"

"You couldn’t have anything better than Our Father. Our Lord made that
prayer Himself.  But there are lots of others.  The little ones are
easiest.  Say: ’_Jesu, have mercy upon me!_’"

The weak voice came stumbling after.

"Jesu, have mercy on me!"

"_Jesu, help me!_"

"Jesu, help me!"

"_O Thou who didst die for sinful men upon the Cross, have mercy upon me
a sinner!_"

The glassy eyes stared upwards and past the boy, and a thin scarlet
thread began to trickle from the corner of his mouth....

"O Thou who didst die—upon the Cross—mercy—me a sinner!"

The stumbling voice trailed away into silence.  The glazing eyes,
meeting Bawne’s, said plainly: "Now go!" And as the boy, blind with
tears, turned in obedience to their order, a dull flame leaped into
them.  They had seen the tall half-length of a big man, panoplied in the
goggled helmet and pneumatic jacket of the aviator, bulking in the
window-gap, even before Bawne knew that the Enemy was there.

                             *CHAPTER LXIV*

                             *AT SEASHEERE*

The narrow white footpath had suddenly led nowhere. Patrine had found
herself standing at the edge of a four-foot bluff, looking down upon a
grassy plateau that gently sloped to the brink of the cliffs.  A wire
fence enclosed an aggregation of stone-grey wooden buildings dominated
by a flagstaff and the latticed steel tower of a Wireless installation.
The White Ensign flapped lazily from the halyards of the flagstaff,
there were three hangars at a little distance away. A row of seaplanes
sat on the grass before them, and some figures of men in overalls or the
familiar Naval uniform moved in and out and about the machines busily as
ants. Where the grassland stopped at the cliff-edge the roofs of other
hangars showed, that were built upon the shingle. A little way out
beyond the line of foam where the long green lips of the sea mumbled at
the wet pebbles, another row of seaplanes lashed to buoys, rocked like
gulls drowsing after a gorge of fish.  And far out to sea, where the
heavy trails of smoke bannering from the funnels of rushing grey hulls
betokened the War activities of the Fleet in the Channel, and the
conning-towers of big submarines sometimes pretended to be little stocky
steamers sitting on the swell, two strange bat-like things rose and
circled and swooped, and were hidden in grey-blue mists to rise again,
and swoop and circle....  And a little dinghy with two blue figures in
it was pulling out from the beach in the direction of the anchored

"Beg pardon!  But—aren’t you Miss Saxham?"

She craned her long neck, looking for the speaker, and found him in a
youthful Flight Sub-Lieutenant, who, standing below the grassy bluff,
was looking up with very brown eyes at the tall figure in the narrow
skirt of tan, white and rose-pink chequers, the low-cut blouse of
guipure lace, and the knitted silk coat of rose-pink.  Buckled pumps
adorned the well-arched feet, clad with navy blue silk stockings of
liberal open-work.  She sported a buff sunshade lined with rose, and a
hat of rough tan straw, trimmed with quills of navy blue and rose-pink,
sat coquettishly on the beech-leaf hair.  She gave the boy one of her
wide smiles, evading the "Yes" by nodding, and with a cat-like leap and
scramble, he was up the grassy bluff and standing before her, blushing
and saluting and holding out a scribbled paper-pad.

"For me?"

"For you—if you’re Miss Saxham.  It’s a Wireless came this morning—from
your—from a great friend of yours. Somewhere in France."

"Oh—thank you!"

She pulled off a loose buff glove and stretched a large white hand for
the paper-pad.  The message ran:

"6 a.m.  Now leaving Compiegne for Calais.  Seasheere in five hours,
barring accident.  All my love to you.  Alan."

And the Lieutenant had thought her pale....  She kissed the paper and
smiled at him bewilderingly.  "Lucky beggar, Sherbrand," thought the
Lieutenant.  "What a glorious woman!"  He extorted from Patrine, who
would not be twenty until next August, the penalty for being built on a
grander scale than other daughters of Eve.  But she was asking:

"Whom have I to thank for bringing Mr. Sherbrand’s message?"

"Flight Sub-Lieutenant Dareless—and the thanks are quite on my side."
He phrased the trite civility punctiliously, while the bold brown eyes
beamed and twinkled: "For you’re IT," they said; "just—clippingly—IT!"

"How did you know me?" began Patrine.

"Picked you up through the binnics from the bridge, ten minutes ago."
The slim brown hand flourished, indicating a T-square-shaped space of
well-watered turf marked off in whitewash lines upon the green aërodrome
below.  "We call things by their proper names so as not to lose touch,
you understand?  The short stretch is the Bridge, and the long strip aft
at right angles—that’s the Quarter-deck.  The big hut No. 1 is our
Wardroom—the Wing-Commander’s cabin is divided off from it.  The
officers’ cabins are in the small hut, No. 2, and the Warrant Officers
and men divide No. 3.  Of course we keep watches and post sentries—just
as if we were at sea.  That Territorial on guard near is relieving a man
of ours, do you see?"  He jerked his chin towards the moving brown
figure.  "What have we to guard?  Oh, well, the hangars, and our
Wireless"—another jerk indicating the latticed steel mast surmounting a
telegraph hut wedded to a vibrating dynamo-shed.  "We get reports from
our patrols—most of ’em are fitted with radio-apparatus—and we receive
and transmit messages.  Long distance?  Well, rather!  We’re frightfully
swanky about our Wireless plant.  It’s Number One, H.P.  Not big, but
jolly powerful.  A——"

Six clear, silvery double-notes had sounded from a brass bell, hung
beneath a little white-painted penthouse sitting on the blue strip of
shadow on the westward side of the Wardroom hut.  The Petty Officer who
had rung the bell exchanged a brief word with the Territorial, and went
back to the hangars from whence he had emerged.  Patrine, with her heart
in her mouth, asked the Sub-Lieutenant:

"Was that a signal?"

"Only ship-time," said the brown-eyed one.  "Six bells. Eleven A.M.  And
our man ought to be looming up in sight. He might hit Seasheere now at
any minute.  In fact, he’s nearly an hour late."

"You don’t—you don’t suppose——?"

Fear had pinched and drawn and bleached her so that she looked forty
behind her white veil with blue chenille dragonflies.  Her pale mouth
twitched and her black brows knotted over the haunted eyes that strained
out to sea.  The paper-pad, crunched to a mere wad, dropped from the
hand that unconsciously released it.  The boy picked it up, thrilled by
this peep behind the scenes of another’s romance.

"No, no!  There’s no fear of an accident, Miss Saxham. Perhaps a bit o’
engine-trouble—you’ve got to travel slowish if she vibes too much.  Or
he might have spotted an Aviatik and delayed to have a biff at him—on
the principle that ten Hun-birds make an evener bag than nine.  We know
what a terror he’s getting to be with the Maxim. But what puts the fear
of God into the flighty Taube quicker than anything is our R.N.A.S.
Vickers’ gun."

Ah, did he know how horribly he tortured her!  But a grey speck showed
upon the delicately-misty distance eastwards, growing bigger, coming
nearer, putting miles of green white, heaving water under its throbbing
engine with effortless speed.  Her glance leaped to Dareless, studying
the oncomer between narrowed lids, and the hope that had kindled in her
died out as he shook his head.

"One of ours, on the Home-flight from Belgium, Miss Saxham.  Your man
will pick up much higher, and to the south-east."

And presently the latest type of Fleet hydroplane, a two-seater Batboat
carrying two bareheaded young gentlemen, moaned into view, chasing its
own wave-skipping, flying shadow at full stretch for the shore, came
down in a long mallard-like glide, skidding over the water as the
wild-duck does, and in a ruffle of glittering spray, continued the
home-journey in the character of a motor-boat.

Then there was a sharp squib-like crack, and from one of the anchored
hydroplanes, a rocket went up and burst in a smoke-puff that hung in a
little cloud of violet-grey upon the sunny air, and from the hangars on
the shingle under the bluff streamed figures in blue overalls or grimy
shirt-sleeves, and cheered and waved, standing ankle-deep in refluent
water, topped with creamy sheets of foam.  As the Batboat with her
joyous navigators rushed spluttering to the shallow anchorage and tied
up beside the Station planes, megaphones bellowed, motor-horns tooted,
somebody banged on the ship’s bell, a cornet struck up "Rule Britannia!"
very much out of tune....

"Well done, you two beggars!  Oh! well done!" trumpeted Dareless,
through his hollowed hands, and turned a beaming face on Patrine to
explain that the hatless navigators of the Batboat were Lieutenants of a
Flight stationed at Antwerp, and had shared in the Air Raid on the
Zeppelin-sheds at Düsseldorf—early on the previous day.

And then a droning song had come drifting down out of the sky to the
south-eastward with a buzzing undernote in it that Patrine remembered
well.  Dareless had lifted his head for a rapid upward reconnaissance,
and said with a flash of white teeth in his brown face:

"Thumbs up, Miss Saxham!—this is your particular bird!"

And Patrine had seen, small and high, and shining palely golden in the
sunlight, the shape of the biplane that carried her lover, and her heart
knocked twice in her bosom, heavily, as they knock behind the curtain
before they ring up at the Comedie Française.  A Clery’s
signalling-pistol had cracked and been answered from the Air-Station.
Mechanics in overalls had appeared upon the green.  Then the buzzing had
stopped, and the second Bird of War, rising higher to escape the
backwash of light airs from the cliffs, had launched into a splendid
sweeping spiral, ending in a long glide, and alighted on the well-rolled
Station aërodrome—and Sherbrand had come home.

Surely never until the thought of Flight,—formed in the brain-cells of
Man and fertilised by the lust of Adventure,—hatched out in the Bird
that bears the Knight of To-day upon the air-path, did lover return to
his lady after a fashion so wonderful as this.

The Flying Men have always been coming.  In the Book of Books you will
read of them.  Ecclesiasticus, the Preacher, foretold of the day when a
Bird of the Air should carry the Voice, and That Which Hath Wings should
tell the matter; and how these Winged ones rush and roar through the
prophetic pages of Ezekiel and Daniel, you have but to open them to
learn.  Their shapes like locusts, their armoured bodies with great-eyed
headpieces "like those of horses prepared unto battle," the noise made
by their wings in flight "like the noise of chariots and horses running
to battle," the wheels beneath their wings, the human faces appertaining
to them, the inward fire that issues from them in scorching vapours,—are
described with fiery eloquence in the Apocalypse of the Apostle of St.
John, when the Fifth Angel sounds the Trumpet, and the King whose name
is Exterminans, the Destroyer, reaches the culminating point of his
terrific reign upon earth.

Flight makes the world no more joyful, being mainly used for purposes of
destruction, but nothing can rob the Flying Man of his shining gloriole
of Romance.  The boy who was building toy aëroplanes of card and elastic
a few years back has rediscovered the Flying Dragon of the Cretaceous
period, broken and tamed the winged monster into a War steed, and
thundered down the forgotten roads of the Pterodactyl and the Rukh, to
reap shining honours upon the battlefields of the mutable Air.  And if
the girl who chaffed the boy of old worships him to-day as St. George,
Sir Lancelot, Sir Galahad, and Le Bon Sieur de Bayard rolled into one,
who shall blame her?  Not I, for one!

In the instant of reunion, when the tall brown figure came swinging to
meet her, and the strong hard hands gripped her own, Patrine loved him
more than ever.  Sherbrand’s was not a romantic greeting, but it
thrilled her nevertheless.

"They’ve asked us to lunch here, but it’s ready at the Cottage.  Shall
we accept?  It’s for you to decide."

His tone had indicated his keen desire for the _tête-à-tête_ in
preference.  Disappointment had shadowed his clear eyes when Patrine had
voted for luncheon at the Air Station, inwardly longing to be alone with
him—to be alone.

And yet, despite the longing, the haunting sense of a sword of Fate
hanging over her, Patrine found the Wardroom lunch a jolly banquet.
They were so young, those sunburnt faces, laughing about the
plainly-furnished board. The Wing-Commander in charge of the Station
proved to be something under thirty.  To Patrine, occupying the place of
honour on his right hand, he did the honours like a veteran.  One of the
navigators of the Batboat sat upon her other side, and Sherbrand was her

Sherbrand was altered.  She knew him older, harder, sterner....  Thinner
to the verge of haggardness, with a deep vertical furrow graved between
the thick eyebrows that made a bar of blonde fairness against the red of
his deeply-burned skin.  He had gone away a splendid youth. Now he
returned with two silvery-yellow stars on the cuffs and shoulder-straps
of his khaki tunic, a man seasoned and tempered as a bar of steel in the
furnace-blast of War.

The pleasant meal ended, and the jolly party broke up. Their hosts
accompanied them to the gate of the Station enclosure, and the warmth
and heartiness of Naval tradition had been in the farewells that had
sped the departing guests upon their way:

"_Au revoir_!  All happiness!"

"So-long!  We’ll look after the ’plane all right!"

"_Adios!  Buenas noches!_"



"Good-bye and good luck!  Now all together.... Hip—hip—" and a rousing
British cheer.

                             *CHAPTER LXV*

                    *GOOD-BYE, DEAR LOVE, GOOD-BYE!*

They had looked back to smile and wave their thanks, and an aged
tennis-shoe, scientifically hurled by Dareless, had knocked the cap out
of Sherbrand’s upraised hand, and raised a cloud of chalky dust from the
surface of the sunken road.  Under cover of this they had crossed the
road and climbed a slope together and found themselves standing in
heavenly loneliness, with the sea beside them and their feet upon the
thymy grasses blotted by the short shadows of their tall figures, under
the almost vertical sun.

"Look!" Sherbrand had said, pointing to a whitewashed, red-tiled cottage
cuddled in a hollow some quarter of a mile distant, girt with a gay
frivolous little garden full of bachelor’s buttons and sunflowers,
lavender bushes and nasturtiums yellow and red.  He slipped his hand
within her arm and pressed it, whispering: "There’s our Eden—and my
dream has come true!"

Her heart choked her.  They moved on together shoulder to shoulder, her
elbow resting in the bend of his strong arm, and her hand lying in his.
The air they breathed was sweet with heady, nameless fragrance, the
burning golden light that haloed them seemed the effluence of their
love. Anguish and rapture mingled in the chalice of the perfect hour for
Patrine.  Nothing but rapture was in the draught for Sherbrand, though a
faint fold showed between his eyebrows as he said suddenly:

"Hang it!  I’ve forgotten to ask the Station fellows to give me a
night’s shakedown.  However, there’s a decent hotel in Seasheere.  My
bag is still in the machine, by the way....  Did you send someone on to
the cottage with your traps?"


She began to falter.  It was coming....  But his eagerness delayed the
moment of revelation.  The track they followed dipped down and they
found themselves in a grassy basin.  The turf cupped up on every side
and they were alone, lidded by the blazing turquoise sky.

At the bottom of the green nest he stopped, and next moment his embrace
enveloped her.  She forgot, as an answering flame burned in her blood,
all the things that she had meant to say.  "I’ll have my hour," shot
through her whirling brain, "I must have something of him to keep in
remembrance.  He has never loved me—nor I him—so passionately as now.
Oh, my God!"

He released her with a happy sigh, and they sat down on the shadowed
side of their green nest, a deep dimple in the cheek of the sunny,
smiling Earth, and looked in each other’s eyes.  He said, as she took
off her hat and threw it aside and turned her unveiled, unshadowed face
back to his:

"Your dear cheeks are thinner, I fancy, Pat.  Have you been worrying
much about me?"

She nodded, thinking of her sleepless nights passed after reading his
few letters, or when his letters had failed to come.

"Pretty badly—in the days of the Retreat from Mons. You piloted that
French officer over the Channel and—whiff!—you vanished.  What has
become of him?"

"Wing Commandant Raymond?  He’s riding the storm and directing the
whirlwind somewhere on the French Front. I got my orders to join the
R.F.C.-unit acting with a rearguard battery of the Second Army Corps as
soon as I’d dumped him.  As for the work with the battery, it was always
the same thing.  We flew out against von Kluck’s advance, spotting their
gun-emplacements and getting the range for our gunners.  And under us a
dark-brown river with five branches rolled South.  And that was the

His arm was round her, her cheek was pressed to his, her bosom heaved
against him.  She turned her lips to his in a quick kiss, and whispered:

"And when you came down out of your sky ’like pigeons homing at
nightfall’—that’s a sentence in one of your letters—d’you recognise
it?—the river went on rolling still?"

"Just the same, without a break.  And what a—welter. Remnants of crack
infantry brigades tangled with the rags of cavalry squadrons—grimy,
hairy, ragged chimney-sweeps with bandaged feet and empty bellies, and
blackened tongues hanging out, and blind, blank, staring eyes....
Imagine all the toy soldier outfits in the kiddy-shops of Regent Street
emptied into the gutters and you’ll get an idea of what the thing was
like....  And Transport and Supply-columns jumbled with bits of R.G.A.
batteries and R.F.A.—three dying horses to a howitzer, and one gunner
left out of six!  Bands of refugees and troops of stragglers. Lunatics
led along howling and gibbering.  Lorries, carts, and motor-vans crammed
with swollen-footed cripples—cheek by jowl with bloody spectres
evacuated from Field Hospitals that were reddening the sky with their
burning in the rear.  A day-and-nightmare to haunt one for ever if the
end had been different—"  He caught his breath. "But when I remember
that we straightened the muddle—brought Order out of Chaos—turned on the
Germans and bit to the bone—I pray that the memory may stay with me
always, so that I may teach your sons and mine what it means to be

"Oh, Alan!  My poor boy! ..."  She caught him in her arms with sudden
passion, strained him to her and then freed herself from him, and moved
away, signing to him that he must not approach.  "What you hope for can
never be! I’d have told you this before if I’d been decent, but I wanted
your kisses—I was hungry for the touch of you—and the sound of your
voice in my ears after all these weeks and weeks——"

"Then why do you say it can never be—and tell me in the same breath that
you long for me and love me?"  His light brows were drawn into a heavy
line over his stern grey eyes. "Aren’t you and I going to be married?
Is it possible that you’d draw back—_now_?"

"Because your wife should be a pure woman, and I am not, it is possible.
Don’t move!  Don’t come nearer!  If you do I’ll never have the courage
to tell—what must be told!"

And he had sat still, as a figure in carved khaki-coloured stone with
his knees apart and his knotted hands hanging between them, and his
eyes, curiously hard and pale against the strong red sunburn of his
face, fixed immovably upon her mouth.  When she ended there had been a
great silence; and she had looked up at the azure dome lidding their
green nest, wondering why the burning, perfumed breeze had suddenly
turned cold.  His voice recalled her:

"Why have you told me this?"

"To be honest."  She hugged her knees.  "To give you a chance for
freedom before you were handicapped with me for life, poor boy!"

"And how do you suppose it makes me feel?"  He breathed roughly, and
gritted his teeth, wringing his hands in one another so strongly that
the knuckles started death-white against the reddened skin.  She heard
herself saying lamely:

"I knew you’d be horribly sick about it and hate me!"

"I don’t hate you.  But I want to kill _him_!  He took you to that
damnable place and—"  He bit his lip and swallowed.  "How long was that
before I met you at Hendon?  Three days—and our day of meeting—the
meeting I thanked God for!—was July 18th.  This is October—the 14th—to
be particular.  You must know what I’m driving at.  Is there—any

She said in a level voice, looking at him steadily:

"I have deserved it—but I think God is going to be kinder to me than
to—punish me in that way."  Her eyes flickered and fell from his.  "It
was because—I was so awfully afraid at first that I made up my mind to
marry you.  And now—and now you know the very worst of me."

"Hardly the worst."  He drew breath roughly, and the cloud upon his
forehead lightened a little.  "We’d have been man and wife before I flew
for France—if you’d let me have my way.  Why didn’t you?"

"I—Oh!—It seemed so mean....  A kind of child-stealing. You were so
unsuspecting, and so generous, and so _clean_!"  She bit her lips, and
the tears welled over her underlids....  "You shamed me into being
straight with you.  I’d loved you from the beginning.  But it was as
though my love had left off crawling and grown a pair of wings."

"Answer me straight."  He turned so as to face her. "Did you ever love
that German?"

"To my shame be it spoken—never for an instant!  After that night at the
Upas I hated him unspeakably.  Only when I thought he was dead, I began
to let up a little on the hate."

He looked at his hands and unknotted them and knotted them, and said

"You may be interested to know that he is not dead, but very much the
other thing.  He is scouting and spotting for von Kluck’s gunners on
their south and west Fronts, and sometimes bombing positions he has
skried out—and doing it all superbly, damn him!  He has been degraded to
the rank of a Supernumerary Flying officer for some breach of duty that
got to the Kaiser.  And he has evidently made his mind up to make good
in this War.  They pick him for all the dangerous missions.  He seems
unkillable—and we’ve tried our hardest.  And wherever he goes—until now
I’ve kept this from you—he takes—the Saxhams’ son!"

"Bawne! ..."

She shaped the name dumbly, with lips that were pale as poplar leaves.
"God forgive me!" her conscience whispered.  "How little I have thought
of Bawne!"

"Yes.  I mean Bawne!"

So odd was the contrast between the speaker’s grim, set face and the
bald simplicity of his language, that her white lips twitched with a
crazy desire to laugh, as he added:

"I’ve been keen for a long time on coming across the man who pinched my
hawk-hoverer and kidnapped my friend’s son—and putting the fear of God
into him with an automatic revolver, or a Maxim....  But now that I
know—this!"—the deadly contempt in the voice is inconveyable—"a clean
death hardly meets his case.  Good cartridges seem wasted in killing
that fellow.  One wants to set one’s heel down—hard on him—and scrunch!"

He had sat silent, staring before him yet a moment longer. Then he
gathered himself together and got up from the grass, glanced at his
wrist-watch and said, holding out his hand to assist her in rising:

"Well, let’s be going.  It’s half-past three.  They’ll expect us to tea
at the cottage.  By the way, you haven’t told me.  Did you send on your
bag from the station when you came?"

She shuddered violently, and leaped up without touching the offered
hand.  The west was all dappled with tiny pearly cloudlets, their
shadows were lengthening momentarily, the salt smell of the sea was on
the breeze that came in languid puffs.  But the wine of joy that had
brimmed their green bowl had been emptied out by her own hand, and the
draught now held to her flinching mouth was bitterer than hemlock and
blacker than Styx.  That change in his face and voice—

"What do you suppose?  I brought no bag.  I am going home by the next
train."  She glanced at a little jewelled wrist-watch he had given her
and back at the mask-like face, that said:

"You mean we part here, for good!  Is that it?"

"For good—or bad.  My poor boy——"

He put her "poor boy" from him with a gesture of the hand.  He asked in
a flat, toneless voice:

"Am I a blackguard like von Herrnung?  You came down here to marry me.
What will be said afterwards—if——"

"I’m past caring what people think or say!" she flashed at him angrily.
"I’ve told you that I will not marry you!—that I’m not fit to be your
wife.  Oh! if you suppose it didn’t hurt——"

A rush of tears drowned out his altered visage.  She turned away,
fighting for composure, summoning all her woman’s pride to help her at
her need.  That swaying grace, that alluring physical perfection—had
never appealed to Sherbrand’s senses so irresistibly....


She heard his eager footsteps following her.  She was snatched into his
masterful embrace, assailed by his stormy kisses, wooed by his
passionate words of love beyond her power to resist.  The flood in the
veins of both was rising, the force of the warm rushing torrent was
bearing them away, she cared not whither, so that she might keep those
arms about her still.

"Patrine!  My woman of women—do you think I’d let you go from me?  Not
I!  I’ll have you for my wife whether you will or no!  We’ll forget—all
that!  We’ll be happy in spite of it.  Won’t we?"

"No!" she gasped out.

"We will, I tell you!"  He laughed out with ringing triumph and bent his
head, seeking her evasive mouth with his own.  Hard pressed she had

"Don’t ask me to marry you!  I’d never, never do it! Unless you were
poor and sick and a nobody—and wanted a woman to nurse and work for
you....  Then—the wag of a finger or the wind of a word would bring me
to you. But—I swear it before God!—I won’t marry you as you are!"

"You will!"

"I’ve sworn I won’t.  But—"  She had whispered it in a kiss of fire—"I
will give you—what that other man took!"

And Sherbrand had uttered a hoarse sound like a sob, and unwound her
arms from about his neck, and said, holding her hands close in his and
looking sternly in her swimming eyes:

"I’m no saint, God knows!—but I’m a better man than to take what you
offer.  Halloa!  That’s Davis.  What’s up now?"

A distant whistle had made him prick his ears.  He whistled back and ran
lightly up to the brink of the grassy punch-bowl in time to meet the
little black-avised Welshman—hero of the Paris episode in connection
with the girl with the goo-goo eyes.  Davis had handed him a paper-pad.
Sherbrand had read it, scrawled a reply on the blank side to be
dispatched by the Station’s Wireless, and hurried back to Patrine.

"We—couldn’t have been married to-morrow anyway. The man who undertook
to replace me while I went on leave has been killed doing reconnaissance
on our new Front in North-West France.  I’m recalled."


He nodded.  The British Force had been deftly transferred from its
position on the Aisne to a base at St. Omer, you will remember, thus
blocking the Calais Gate.  The New Offensive was taking shape.
Sherbrand had continued:

"So—if you’re to catch the three-fifty from Fearnchurch to Charing
Cross—we’ll have to run!"

And as the screech of a distant engine had sounded from the direction of
Fearnchurch Station, he had caught up the veiled hat and thrust it upon
Patrine, grabbed her thin rain-coat and vanity bag and sunshade, and
hurried her back to the flinty railway-station by the way she had come.
And with the banging of the carriage-door, her woman’s heart had broken.
She had felt it bleeding drip, drip, drip! as Sherbrand’s tall bare head
and grave sad eyes had receded out of sight.

And the train had been delayed at the next station, waiting for the
passage of a troop-train crammed with eager faced young men of
Kitchener’s Army, concrete answers to the famous Call to Arms and the
First Five Questions—nearly half an hour.  So that rounding the curve
beyond the last signal-cabin for the clanking journey through the short
tunnel, Patrine had seen, some miles to seaward of the glittering white
prow of the North Foreland, a biplane with its wings reddened by the
sunset, flying south-east.

"Oh! good-bye, Alan!" she had whispered, knowing that she would never
see her Bird of War again.  He had been caught and dragged back into the
fiery whirl of the cyclone without the hope that nerves and supports and
brings adventurers back.  Sorrowful and stern, baulked of his heart’s
desire, grimly bent on meeting von Herrnung, and wreaking retribution
for a horrible wrong, upon the red head of the Kaiser’s Flying Man.

                             *CHAPTER LXVI*

                             *MORE KULTUR*

The boy’s slight figure seemed to shrink upon itself as the stony eyes
looked at him, and the teeth showed under the red moustache, not tightly
curled now, but stiffened and pointing to the eyes.  Von Herrnung set a
foot upon the broken wall and leaped into the baker’s parlour,
staggering slightly as he alighted amongst the rubbish on the broken
floor.  He had been drinking, but not to excess, for the
restaurant-cellars having been thoroughly gutted by his countrymen, the
wreckage of the bar behind which Madame had sat, busy with her
embroidery, had yielded barely a half-tumbler of Cognac and a single
bottle of Champagne.

Having drunk enough to spur memory and not to lull his snarling
grievances to slumber, he had come forth to blunt the tooth of his
bitter hatred on the boy.  For, since that queer tickling, pleasurable
sensation experienced in his first tantalization of Bawne’s hunger,
every new weal marked upon the wincing body, every fresh bruise
inflicted on the shuddering soul of Her Dearest, imparted to von
Herrnung a ferocious pleasure in comparison with which mere vicious
indulgence palled.

"So, there you are, little English pig-dog," he said in German, as the
blue eyes met his own and fell away before them and the colour sank out
of the young face.  "Get you back to the _Market-platz_ there and wait
for me.  I have some business with your friend."

He stretched out a long arm, picked up the boy by the slack of his
garments, and with a turn of the wrist dropped him into the street.  His
ears were pricked for the cry that should follow the slight scrambling
fall of the light body on the rubbish.  It failed to come, and he
frowned. Presently—  Meanwhile here was game of a larger kind.  He
looked down from his superb height upon the bloodstained figure in the
stretcher.  Its eyes were closed, and the haggard face beneath the grime
and bristles had the yellowish-white of old wax.  He spoke to it
harshly, in his English, and the brownish lids split apart and the gaunt
sick eyes glimmered up at him.  But no reply came from the livid lips.
He rapped his foot sharply on the floor, repeating:

"I suppose you know you are my prisoner, sir?" and a strange spasm of
mingled amusement and irony twitched the muscles of the haggard mask.
The faded negatives of eyes regarded him with the ghost of a smile in
them.  The dissolving voice said in tones no louder than a sigh:

"Possibly.  But not—for long!"

The voice stopped short.  As von Herrnung took a step nearer to the
stretcher, his toe stubbed against and caught in the strap of a leather
case lying on the littered floor.  He picked up the case and smiled as
he drew out a costly pair of Zeiss binoculars.  His own, though hailing
from the Jena workshop, only magnified to 12x.  These registered 25x. On
the metal rim of the larger lense was engraved the style and title of
the owner: "Capt. Rt. Hon. Viscount Norwater, Royal Bearskins Plain."

A find in the dual sense.  He restored the binoculars to their case,
unbuckled the strap and slipped it under his heavy bandolier of
cartridges, hanging the case beside his own, loosened the upper
stud-clips that fastened his goggled helmet, and pushed it back so as to
reveal his whole face. The gaunt eyes were open, looking at him
attentively.  He asked them:

"May it not be that we have met before?  In Paris, yes? On the night of
the Grand Prix.  At the Hotel Spitz, _ja, ja, gewiss_!  A dinner given
by Sir Thomas Brayham for Lady Wathe and a few friends.  You were one of
the friends.  I another.  How is the old woman, do you know?"

_Kreutzdonnerwetter!_ what inconceivable insolence!  The eyes looked
through him as though he had not been there. His hard blue eyes, already
injected with blood, grew savage, and a purplish tinge suffused his
florid skin.  He reflected an instant, pulled a capacious silver
spirit-flask from the deep side-pocket of his pneumatic, half-filled the
drinking cup that capped it, and knelt down beside the stretcher, saying
quite pleasantly, in his gutturals:

"See, here is some capital Cognac.  Let me give you a sip, eh?  Then you
will feel better."  He poured a dram between the teeth, and waited
through a spasm of coughing, wiped the blood and mucus from the gasping
lips with a rag of the torn clothing, then pulled a stool from amongst
the rubbish, sat down near the feet of the wounded man, facing him, and
took a long pull of the belauded brandy from the neck of the big flask.

"That does more good than canteen coffee," he said, and sucked his red
moustache appreciatively.  He set down the flask on the floor between
his feet, found his case, and carefully chose a cigar.

"A zigarre?  No!  You will, then, perhaps not object to my smoking?  We
of the Field Flight have to comfort ourselves with snuff when in the
air.  To burn tobacco and blaze up like a star-shell and come down like
a charred rocket-stick, that is not at all agreeable or _praktisch_.
_Sapperlot!_ you are not a very amusing companion.  Nevertheless, my
fellow, I drink to your jolly good health!"

He knocked off the ash of his cigar, cleared his throat, and spat, just
clearing Franky’s shoulder.  The flicker of anger in the sunken eyes
brought a glitter of malice into his own. He sent out a long swaggering
stream of smoke, and knocked the ash from his cigar with the little
finger of his ringed left hand, continuing:

"You see, I have cut the long thumb-nail that amused you when we met in
Paris.  The Day has come—though you would not join me in drinking to its
dawning!—and the German eagle has dipped his claws in English blood.  We
Prussians have beaten out the iron sceptre of World Power with giant
blows upon the War Anvil, and the sun that never set upon the swanky
British Empire, has already risen to find the Roast Beef of Old England
in danger, and the Triple Entente a bankrupt syndicate."  He shrugged
and twisted his red moustache, tilted his big body sidewise, and spat at
a carefully-calculated angle, missing the other shoulder of the victim
as he pursued:

"But you do not know ... _Donnerwetter!_ how should you?—lying here like
a stuck pig!  Yesterday—in the neighbourhood of Ypres—took place the
ultimate, conclusive battle, in which the German mammoth pounded the
British Lion into pulp.  Your little British Expeditionary Force may be
said to exist no longer.  Your Brigade of Guards, who boast that, like
the Samurai, they do not surrender while yet unwounded, is practically
extinct. Maddened by despair the officers shot the few men who remained
and then blew one another’s brains out.  Your Commander-in-Chief is our
prisoner, Sir Rothesay Craig has been killed, also General Callonby and
General Jones-Torrian. The French Generalissimo has surrendered, with
the 5th French Army.  The 6th French Army has been chopped into
sausage-meat.  So, all is over!  Total Kaput!"

"If what you say is Gospel," said the weak voice, and the faded eyes had
the ghost of a smile in them, "why do I keep on hearing our guns?"

For the hurly-burly of battle in the South had broken out afresh as
though in contradiction.  The crazy floor vibrated, the tottering walls
shook with the distant fury of sound:

_Thud—thud—thud—thud!_ and the muffled _Boom!—Crash!_ of immense
explosions.  And through all the steady slogging of Royal Garrison
Artillery howitzers, and the tireless, dogged hammering of Field
Artillery eighteen-pounders.

"_Macht nicht!_"

Von Herrnung shrugged contemptuously, though his keen ear did not miss
the fact that the guns were coming nearer: "That must go on—for a
little!—until the last show of resistance is broken down.  If it be a
military virtue not to be aware when you are beaten—your big-jawed,
dull-brained, short-headed British bull-dogs of soldiers have that
virtue, of course.  But comes the awakening!  The Russian Navy has been
blown off the Baltic, the Czar has accepted our Kaiser’s ultimatum—the
Belgian Government has made its submission—the Belgian Army has laid
down its arms. Our 17-inch siege-howitzers are bombarding the shores of
England from their emplacements at Calais.  The Army of Invasion is
embarking—your British Navy—the floating bulwark of your Empire—lies at
the bottom of the North Sea.  Ministers run from one end of England to
the other, begging, coaxing, persuading—your proletariat.  There is
panic in the English War Office, and despair at Buckingham Palace;
rebellion in the streets of London, _débâcle_ in the City, and stampede
in the West End.  To-morrow the Emperor of Greater Germany and the Crown
Prince, Viceroy of the Brito-German Possessions, will, with the Empress
enter Paris.  Ten miles of films will record for all Posterity this
colossal and magnificent scene.  The London pageant of triumph follows.
Well may you weep, my unlucky fellow, over the collapse and ruin of your
proud country"—for tears were really trickling from the puckered eyelids
of the now flushed and quivering face.  "_Himmelkreuzbombenelement_! You
are not weeping.  You are laughing, you dirty English swine!"

"What else do you—expect—when you’re so—dashed amusin’?" gasped Franky
painfully.  "Roll along with some more of it—why don’t you, Anatole?"

"You do not believe me, no?  You think that I am rotting," von Herrnung
shrugged his huge shoulders and laughed with forced heartiness.  "Always
to rot, that is the English custom."  He added, with a cruel relish:
"_Desto besser_, you will die more pleasantly.  For of course you will
die.  This is the third day you have lain here, _Alter junge_, and you
have the smell and colour of gangrene.  You are a lump of carrion,
Norwater, not worth the taking away!"

"Possibly not!"

The eyes met his calmly, though their laughter had died out.  It angered
von Herrnung to be baulked of the ferocious enjoyment he had promised
himself.  He finished the Cognac slowly, seeking in the fiery drink a
spur to inventiveness, and sucked his moustache slowly as he capped and
pocketed the flask.

"I am hellishly sorry, I assure you, Norwater," he said, adopting a
bluff and hearty manner as he sucked the stump of the nearly finished
cigar.  "One is hardened to death and wounds in War, but one is human.
And I have been on friendly terms with many Englishmen and _Angenehme
Englânderinn_ such as Lady Wathe, whom I have known for years, and that
superb brunette, Mees Saxham.  We flirted desperately that night in
Paris.  Later on, in London, she became my mistress——"

"You lie, you aëroplane-stealing cad!" said Franky, feebly but with
great distinctness.  Von Herrnung swore and spat, full in his face.  Its
nostrils winced disgust, but the brown eyes were indomitable.  And from
the blue lips came a mere thread of human utterance, pregnant with
scathing irony:

"I—say to you what the—Belgian woman said to your Kaiser—when his—horse
splashed her.  ’_This kind of filth—wipes off!_’"

"You think so, eh?  You——"

Von Herrnung clenched his fist, and might have dashed it in the eyes
that defied him, but for a sudden, significant change in the sound of
those distant guns.  The barrage of the German Field Artillery was
becoming intermittent. The slogging of the British had increased in

A flare of red spurted into the Kaiserman’s pasty cheeks, and his hard
eyes lighted eagerly.  He forgot his rule of sleeping off liquor before
again taking to the air.  With a confidence in his own powers largely
justified by his successes, his mind leaped to the scene of conflict.
Now, when the German batteries were weakening, was the moment for the
arrival of a pilot-aviator of the Imperial Field Flight, skilled as
aërial observer and signaller, and known to be indifferent to risk.

Here was the chance one had hoped for.  Restitution of the forfeited
decoration.  Restoration to the Emperor’s favour.  Reinstatement in the
lost place upon the regimental roster.  Promotion—the bestowal of new
honours—danced before him like little, gaudy demons, drowning with their
buzz the voice of prudence, luring him to the essay.

"I am compelled to leave you now, Norwater," he said smilingly to the
man on the stretcher; "thanks so much for our interesting chat!  I shall
carry away a pleasant recollection, and leave you also a memento in the
shape of a bomb, which I shall drop on you when I have climbed to a
suitable height.  So _Gut Abend, Alter junge_.  Though before I go there
is a trifling formality——"

He knelt down by the stretcher, and without unnecessary gentleness
rifled the pockets of the wounded man.  The victim had swooned when von
Herrnung rose, transferring to his own person a small purse, heavy with
English sovereigns, and a pigskin case full of crisp French banknotes,
with a thin gold wrist-watch that had a luminous dial, and a coroneted
monogram upon the back.

Sheer waste, according to the German War Book, issued by the Great Staff
for the use of German officers, to leave upon the person of the fallen
opponent articles likely to be of use to the conqueror.  He rinsed his
hands in the water-can, and dried them on his clothing, pulled up his
helmet, fastened it, and buttoned his pockets, straightened his
bandolier, nodded pleasantly at the reflection of his giant person in
the skewed wall-mirror, jumped lightly through the window-gap, and went
upon his way.

The slight figure lying so still upon the stretcher had never been
remarkable for beauty of proportion.  The sharpened face with its hue of
old wax, the discoloured stains and the hair and grime upon it, had
never been handsome even in health.  But thrown back and tilted upwards,
with the rosy glow of the setting sun touching the high brow, and violet
shadows framing the sealed eyelids and close-shut mouth, it did not lack
the quality of nobility.  There was something knightly about the still

He revived to pain and loneliness and burning thirst, the squalor and
abomination of desolation, the louder, nearer thudding of the German
drum-fire, and the dogged reply of the unweakening British guns.  He
might have deemed the events that had taken place illusions born of
weakness and fever, but for the testimony of the looking-glass that hung
away upon the wall.  There was the familiar vista of the Market Square,
with the charred ruins of Town Hall and Clock Tower, yet sending up thin
columns of bluish smoke into the radiant air.  You could even make out a
corner of the great stack of stiffened, blackening bodies.  Nothing was
wanting but that the Taube should still be resting on the cobblestones
like a drowsy white vampire-bat glutted with human blood.

But the Taube was not there.  From high overhead the buzzing note of the
hoverer came down to Franky.  He could see through the rents in the
penthouse of broken flooring the white, winged shape hanging poised
overhead. He even fancied he could descry the helmeted, goggled head of
von Herrnung peering over the bulwarks of the bird-body, the jut of his
elbow and the pear-shaped wire cages in which the bombs hung ready to
his hand.

The thought of Margot and the child was an exquisite agony.  The thirst
for life, delectable life, revived in Franky ragingly.  In dreadful
expectation of the deafening crash, and the rending pang, and the
burning bite of the greenish flame, the haggard eyes were straining
upwards, when the terror went out of them, and their lids flickered
down.... Let the fellow do his worst.  Where was the good of hating?
Christ had prayed for His murderers when they nailed Him on the Tree.
The numb hand feebly made the Sacred Sign, and the tension passed with
the terror.... There was a dull boom high overhead, and some heavy
objects fell in a neighbouring backyard.  Little bits of metal rattled
on Franky’s plank penthouse, and some warm drops pattered on Franky’s
face and wetted the hand that lay upon his breast.  Not rain, but
something sticky and thick, with a sickly, well-known odour.  He lifted
the hand. Oh, horrible!  The heavens were raining blood.

Too weak to even guess at what had happened, he fell again into a
stupor.  The hollowed chest heaved at longer intervals beneath the First
Aid bandaging over which had been thrown the khaki coat.  Long cold
breaths expired through the panting nostrils, the eyes showed a glassy
line of white between the parted lids.  He was dreaming....

Dreaming of being borne along in a shadowy boat under starless skies,
through clear lucent darkness, over another darkness unfathomable, and
yet diamond-clear.  Perhaps no more water than the atmosphere above it
was air, both possibly, elements unknown....  The boat crowded with
seated shapes, three of them feminine....  A tall, black-hooded,
black-mantled figure in the sternway seemed to impel the vessel with a
single oar.

"Is this stuff water?"

The quiet voice of a man seated beside Franky had asked the question.
Franky slipped his hand over the boat’s low side and withdrew it
shining, but not dripping, thinking:

"It is and it isn’t.  Fairly odd!  Wonder where we’re bound for?  That
fellow sculling....  Reminds me of old Charon, in the Sixth Æneid, when
I swotted Virgil at School."

"Me too!"  Thought seemed to pass current as speech, for though Franky
had not voiced his reflection, the tall man who sat next him had
answered instantly:

"But if this is the Ninefold—what about the ’_cold and venomous waters,
consuming iron and breaking the rarest vessels_.’"  The speaker dipped
his hand over the side and brought it up all shining but not dripping,
and touched his lips with it, and went on, smiling: "Besides, if you and
I are alive, where are our golden boughs, and if we’re dead, where are
our oboli?  We ought to have ’em!  It wouldn’t be good form not!"

"Why, you’re Braythwayte of Ours!  How is it I didn’t know you?  Why did
I suppose—"  Franky broke off, for Braythwayte’s very recent exit from
the stage of life had been performed after a highly coloured fashion,
when the Germans had showered heavy shells of high explosive upon the
little Belgian town.  "That fellow sculling," he said to cover the
slight embarrassment.  "Somehow I fancy I’ve seen him before."

"Ah!  Now I recollect."  Braythwayte was answering the thought of the
previous moment.  "I did get crumped up pretty badly.  Should have come
off lots worse hadn’t it been for Cruse.  He threw himself in front of
me when the shell dropped so near us."  He spoke of the Sergeant-Major
of his Company who had been killed at the same moment. "Don’t you
recognise him?  Cruse is the man who’s sculling. I caught a glimpse of
his face just now—it can be nobody but Cruse."

"Beggin’ yer pard’n, Sorr."  The soft South Irish brogue sounded more
apologetic than contradictory.  The thick, sturdy figure of the speaker,
uncertainly descried in the clear obscurity, leaned anxiously over from
the opposite seat. "’Tis Father Walsh—may Those Above reward him for an
ould, bould gentleman!—that kem crawlin’ out on his four bones to the
Advanced threnches at a place they did be callin’ La Bossy or
suchlike—to give Holy Absolution to meself and Hanlon an’ two other boys
av’ the Loyal Irish Rifles that wor’ in a bad way.  Wouldn’t I swear to
his skin on a gate, or the bend of his beak anywhere"—the voice
hesitated—"barrin’ for the mimmory I have that Thim Wans was afther
pluggin’ him through the head—and himself just layin’ the Blessed
Sacrament on me tongue!"

"Beg pardon."  A woman’s voice joined in the conversation. "Sorry to
interrupt, but I know him, really.  It isn’t the Surgeon-Major—or Father
Anybody!"  Franky recognised in the clear obscurity the flowing white
head-dress and grey Red-Cross badged cape of an Army Nursing Sister, as
she went on: "It’s just our Civil Surgical Specialist—who died of double
pneumonia (septic) at the Harfleur Military Hospital.  Had a touch of
influenza—and would get out of bed to operate on one of the Sisters—a
sudden case of appendix trouble with typhoid thrown in.  Oh, yes! the
operation was successful, but the Sister didn’t recover. Still, the
C.S.S. gave his life for hers all the same!"

"Good egg, him!  But are you quite sure there’s no mistake with regard
to our friend there?"  Franky nodded towards the tall, black-hooded,
black-mantled figure plying the oar, upright in the stern.  "Because
just now I caught a glimpse of his face, and I could have sworn it was
my grandfather—by a long sight the finest man I’ve ever come across!  He
dived over the yacht’s side and saved my life when I was drowning.  It
was the Cowes Season of 1894. I was a cheeky nipper of eight—and he was
seventy-one. And the chill and the excitement brought on a stroke or
something.  He was dead in his cabin-berth next morning, when his man
went in with the mail."

"Oh, you funnies!"  This with a clear little trill of laughter in the
voice of a small girl—Franky could see her bright eyes dancing as she
peeped at him from her niche between the Army Nurse and the small,
black-habited elderly figure of a Sister of Charity in a deep starched
_guimpe_ and wide-flanged cornette.  "As if it could be anybody but my
Dada—who pulled the soldiers out of the train that was all smashed up
and burning!  When me and Mummy——"

"_Taisez vous donc, Raymonde!_" whispered the nun reprovingly.  "It is
not _convenable_ that _petites demoiselles_ should interrupt their
elders thus.  Remember where you are, and in what Presence!"

"Please don’t scold her!" coaxed Franky, the devout lover of children.
The nun smiled, meeting his entreating eyes.  He smiled back and went
on: "Right or wrong—we seem all agreed that our friend in the stern is a
near relation—or a close acquaintance of nearly every one of us.  In
every case a supreme benefactor——"

"Surely, monsieur!" she gave back in a hushed tone. "But surely,
monsieur!  The Helper—the Benefactor of us all!"

As the keel grated on unseen bottom, she folded her hands with a
beautiful devoutness, and sank upon her knees, drawing with her the
child.  The man of the Loyal Irish followed her example.  Franky found
himself kneeling with the others—and as the boat’s prow ploughed into
sand or shingle, and the Ferryman, shipping his oar, moved shorewards
with a shepherding gesture, the voyagers rose with a thrill of
expectancy, and followed with one accord.

He stepped ashore—dropping the great black mantle—turned and faced them,
spreading out His Arms.  Beauty Divine, glory unspeakable——

                            *CHAPTER LXVII*

                             *THE QUESTION*

"Have I been honest?" Patrine asked herself over and over, kneeling by
the open window, staring into the darkness. "Have I been just towards
the man who never was a friend even when he played the lover?  Did not
my own attitude of cynical curiosity towards secret, hidden things, bias
his line of conduct towards me?  Might not even von Herrnung have
respected a girl who showed no inclination to flutter moth-like, about
the flaming torch of Sin?  No! he would not.  But I could have saved
myself even from scorching—I, who approached the flame too closely, and
shall carry the scars of my burning to the grave."

Drip, drip, drip!  Water, oozing from the box that stood upon the table,
was dropping on the carpet with the small, insistent sound....  At the
west end of the Catholic Church where Patrine had told her story to a
priest in the Confessional there was a great black Crucifix, bearing a
white thorn-crowned Figure gashed with gory-seeming wounds.  She had
fancied that the blood from them dripped down upon the pavement as she
had sat staring at the High Altar, and wondering whether it were true
that wilful sin committed by men and women for whose salvation Christ
had bled and died might not cause Him suffering even now?

She had been willing to sin for Sherbrand, and said so in her hour of
madness.  Yet the renunciation of her lover as a husband had been an act
of the purest love.  Perhaps God would overlook the one thing for the
sake of the other? Perhaps He had really spoken by the mouth of that old
priest whose tears had dropped upon his withered hands....

Drip, drip, drip!  Patrine began to suspect the source whence the sound
proceeded.  The people who had packed the roses—they must be roses—had
wetted the cotton-wool too heavily, the fools!  The inlaid table and the
carpet would suffer if the wet were not mopped up.  One ought to ring
for Mrs. Keyse or Janey, or better still, see to it oneself.

She half-rose with this intention, then sank down again nervelessly.  It
was half-past ten.  The October night leaned close over London, Harley
Street was muffled in velvet darkness.  The veiled gleam of electric
lights showed at its junction with Cavendish Square.  The rumble of the
tube train came from Portland Place, the faint shriek of the Northern
Express sounded from Euston.  A Brocken Hunt of motor-buses screeched
and clanked up the Marylebone Road and faded into distance.  The rumble
and roar of Oxford Street showed signs of diminution.  It was possible
to hear stray sentences spoken by people passing upon the pavement

"I don’t care!"  This from the shorter of two female figures that had
halted before the house.  The edge of light-coloured skirt showing below
her cloak, and the gleam of white cuffs framing the gloved hands with
which she gestured, suggested a Hospital nurse to Patrine.  "Taxation
without Representation is a crying injustice—and the men will wake up to
it one of these days....  And Mrs. Clash may be a noisy person—and Fanny
Leaven may drop her haiches—I do myself when I get stirred up.  But
they’re in earnest—and they’ve suffered—cruel!—for their convictions.
Look at this Petrell—that one that always takes the Chair. She’s a
physical wreck—with the treatment she’s had—and I know what I’m talking
about!  Haven’t we had Suffragettes brought to the Hospital for
treatment over and over—after they’d been pitched out of Political
Meetings by Stewards and half-throttled by Police.  What I say is—Moses!
how late! ... We shall get locked out of the Home if we don’t run for

And their light hurrying footsteps and the unmistakable frou-frou of
starched print accompanying, passed away up Harley Street.  They must
have come from the Mass Meeting of Suffragists that had taken place at
the Royal Hall.

It had been a memorable evening.  The atmosphere of the Royal Hall,
thronged not only with the members of the W.S.S.S. but with
representatives of many other Women’s Unions and Associations and
Societies and Leagues, was highly charged with electricity.  Mrs.
Petrell, resolute-lipped, quiet-eyed, clear of diction and composed of
manner, knew, as she sat in her chair beside the little table in the
middle of the crowded platform, and better even than the plain-clothes
police among the audience—that at any moment the storm might break.

She had advocated with all her much-tried strength an armistice for the
War-period, involving a temporary abandonment of militant methods and
inflammatory addresses, in favour of a policy of active help and
practical sympathy, alike honourable to her head and heart.

Other Societies, Unions, Leagues, and Associations might have followed
the lead of their Presidents.  But would the W.S.S.S. accept her
programme?  Militancy had been its motto and the breath of its nostrils
through all these troubled years.  Since the outbreak of War, Flaming
Fanny had busily sown the whirlwind, advocating fresh Demonstrations in
conjunction with a system of Unlimited Strikes. Woman must hold her
hand, now that her help was needed. Man, the Oppressor of all time, must
be coerced by Woman’s flat refusal to take part in Relief Work, or War
Work, or Work of any kind whatever, into yielding the withheld right.
And Mrs. Clash sided with Fanny—and others, nearer home.

Little wonder then that Pressmen, sensing the imminence of riot, had
turned out in their shabbiest tweeds and left their watches and tie-pins
at home.  Little wonder that Medical Students, who had not already
joined the Service, with betting-men and patrons of the pugilistic Prize
Ring, found themselves baulked of anticipated entertainment, or that
loafers and crooks, pickpockets and rowdies, disappointed of a
pleasurable evening, expressed themselves in unmeasured terms regarding
that Mass Meeting at the Royal Hall.

A melodious speaking-voice can be a magical wand, wielded by the mouth
of a plain woman.  But when the woman is beautiful and intellectual,
when soul breathes through her words, and strength and tenderness, then
she becomes a Force to reckon with, a Power to move mountains and bring
water of tears from the living rock of the hardest human heart.

The officially-checked lights of the Hall shone down upon a sea of
threatening faces.  The electric battens over the speaker’s head showed
her to be a tall, fair, slender woman, dressed in filmy grey, veiling
soft clinging silk of the same shade.  The simplicity of her dress was
unrelieved by ornaments other than a chain of pearls about her long
throat. The red-brown hair seemed heavy for the little Greek head, the
lovely pale face with the sensitive lips, wore a look of patient sorrow,
the eyes she turned upon the audience—a seething mixture of
irreconcilable elements—had in them courage, sympathy and understanding,
and knowledge too.  Before she spoke she had created an impression.
Strangers were ingratiated by her beauty and evident refinement.  Those
who best knew her were among the wildest and most reckless there.  They
had quieted, when she had risen up in her unnoticed corner of the
platform, and moved forwards to the speaker’s place opposite the Chair,
as though oil had been cast upon the waters of a stormy sea.

"When God Willed this War that we call Armageddon," she had said to
them—"for without the permission of the Most High the earthly Powers
that planned and prepared it could not have plucked the fruit of their
desire—it came in time to prevent the declaration of a War even more
terrible.  War, to the Death, between Woman and Man."

In a few trenchant words she painted the dire results of such hostility.

"That unnatural horror has been mercifully averted," she said to them.
"The old sore is healed, there is no hatred nor rancour left.  We women
have learned what a price has to be paid for the Franchise of Manhood.
It is the brave blood that is drenching the soil of Belgium and France
and Poland—that will flow in rivers as wide as the Thames at Vauxhall
Bridge before Peace is proclaimed again.  They have answered the Call.
They are pouring into the recruiting offices—in thousands of
thousands—those who have given up their loved ones, their homes, their
hopes of success in Arts or Sciences, professions or businesses or
trades. Will women be as unselfish and as generous when their Call
comes?  For it will come.  It is coming while I stand here!"

They were strangely quiet, under the spell of the beautiful voice, and
the eyes that were luminous and deep with tenderness:

"There are faithful Christians among you; brave earnest souls who have
prayed to GOD for guidance among the difficulties that beset the way for
working-women, and weaker souls have been maddened to frenzy and plunged
into unbelief by the intolerance and the injustice, the shrieking wrongs
and the unpurged evils that Man, who enters upon his heritage the world,
by the Gate of Motherhood, has ignorantly accumulated upon the shoulders
of the sex he professes to respect."

There was a murmur of approval at this.  She lifted a hand, and they
were silent.

"I say to those who have despaired, ’Despair no longer!’  I say to those
who have prayed—’Your prayer is answered!’ Take up the work that has
dropped from the hands that are busy with the rifle.  Prove your right
to the Parliamentary Franchise.  Take your place amongst the World’s
Workers, for good and for all.  The Vote will be granted: it cannot be
denied!  But if you had it now, passionately as you desire it, and the
choice were offered you—Oh! my sisters!—would you not yield it up with
gladness to bring those dead men back to life again?"

And after a pause of unbroken silence she added:

"For they have fought even better than they knew. They have re-conquered
Woman.  Freely and willingly as comrade and helper she takes her place
and her share of the burden.  Peace is proclaimed.  The War between the
sexes is at an end!"

We know how truly the speaker prophesied.  Quietly as the vast Atlantic
flows into and fills a labyrinth of empty, echoing, rock-caverns, the
vast body of unemployed women took the places of the male workers called
away to the Front. They had clicked into the slots before the world was
well aware of it, or they themselves understood that a miracle had been

Said the breeched and gaitered lady-conductor of a North-West tram the
other day:

"Now the ones that was brought up active has got their chance to do a
bit, and the ones that was brought up idle ’ave found out that they like
work, will they ever be content to sit and twiddle their thumbs again?
I don’t think!"  She clipped pink tickets with zeal, and when a
red-nosed, watery-eyed elderly man who had offered her a pewter shilling
cursed her venomously as she thrust the coin back on him: "’Ere you! ...
’Op it!" she said to the offender, and caught him neatly by the scruff,
hauled him down the cork-screw stairway, and deposited him in the Camden
Road without turning a hair.

                            *CHAPTER LXVIII*

                            *THE DEVIL-EGG*

Von Herrnung had quitted the earth sober, to discover at the height of a
thousand metres that his potations had dulled his brain.  As he ceased
to climb and brought down the nose of the Taube to the level, he
realised that he was dizzy, and that at the pit of his stomach squatted
the aviator’s deadly foe, the demon of nausea.  He pictured it as a
yellow, frog-like thing with frothing leathery lips and green eyes that
squinted.  This image vexed him, and would not be driven away.

He switched on the hawk-hoverer and sensed the drag of the twin
horizontal flanged screws against the thrust of the propeller, adding to
its drone the vibration of the endless travelling-chains running in
their sheath of transparent talc. To make room for its long groove in
the floor of the bird-body, the thick glass port beneath the pilot’s
feet had been removed by the sergeant-mechanic of the Flight Squadron.
Now there were two ports, one on either side.  Through these the German
looked down upon the shell-pounded ruins of the village-town, its
roofless homes and broken enclosures giving the effect of a wild-bees’
nest laid open by the gardener’s shovel after the gardener has smoked
out the bees.  As von Herrnung located the baker’s house by aid of his
recently acquired binoculars, another swirl of sickness took him, and he
shuddered and spat bile over the side.

Those distant voices of guns had not ceased their sullen calling.  In
the rose-flushed south towards which the Taube faced as it hovered above
the ruins of the village, black columns of vapour swelled and towered,
and acrid flashes stabbed through the murkiness.  One should be there,
his manlier self said to him.  Better to be a brave German bird dodging
Death amongst the puffs of shrapnel, dropping devil-eggs on the British
batteries, winning back the forfeited Cross and the lost Imperial
favour, than to be here, hanging like a carrion-vulture over the maimed
body of a dying man.

Perhaps.  But one had promised oneself revenge for the scorn that had
stung like fire.  And one had bragged to the English boy of what one
meant to do.  He looked back, and called through the speaking-tube that
traversed the canvas over-deck between the pilot’s seat and the

"Unstrap yourself and come to me and take the control-stick.
_Schnell_—do you hear?  What is that you say?"  He put the voice-tube to
his ear and heard the shrill pipe answer through it.  "You think it best
to tell me that you take back your parole?"  The big teeth grinned under
the red moustache.  "All right!" said the Enemy.  "While we are in the
air, you are free to jump out if you like, and run away.  When we get to
the ground again, that is another matter.  Come now, sit in front of me
and take over the controls!"

And as the boy obeyed, creeping beneath the intervening deck and under
the canvas partition, the Enemy moved back upon the pilot-seat, keeping
his feet on the lower controls, and separating his knees so as to leave
a ledge for Bawne to occupy.  Still laughing, he took spare
safety-straps that hung on each side against the bulwarks, and clipped
the patent pneumatic studs to the belt that girt the boy.

It did not do to run risks.  Some day, it might occur to the Emperor to
order von Herrnung to deliver up his captive. And—the little devil was
useful—hellishly!  He had come into the world, twelve years
ago—possessed of the Flying Gift.  He had taken to the air as naturally
as a young crow or pigeon.  A tap on the shoulder, a word shouted in his
ear—and he knew what you wanted!  He understood now why his overlord
required the unrestricted use of his arms at this moment.  The small
hands twitched as they gripped the lever, and shudders convulsed the
slender frame. Noting this von Herrnung grinned.  His qualms had left
him for the present, he was once more master of his stomach and lord of
his cool and steady brain.  Through the back of his head the boy could
see him—leaning his big body sidewise—craning his neck over the edge of
the fuselage—his hand hovering over the bomb hanging near in its wire
holder, his keen hard eyes calculating distance—his red brows knitted,
his full mouth smiling under its thatch of red hair.  The devil-egg
would burst upon its impact with a roof or with the ground, a thousand
metres under the Taube. How many times since the red dawning of the
Aggressor’s Day had he, von Herrnung, not plucked out the pin and lifted
the latch, and sent Death and Destruction speeding earthwards!  Why
should this particular devil-egg have exploded five seconds after its

The detonating mechanism had been wrongly set, or the explosive had
suffered some chemical deterioration.  With the volcanic upburst of
flaming gases and the fierce blizzard of rending steel splinters, the
Taube was shot upwards like the cork from a bottle of champagne.  The
Enemy had cut out the hovering-gear when he had dropped the devil-egg,
and the thrust of the tractor had sent the Taube rushing on. Thus,
though she had been bumped about on waves of rising gases—though
daylight shone through holes in her wings and body,—a wheel had dropped
like a stone from her under-carriage—and a piece of her tail had gone
fluttering and swerving earthwards, no serious damage had been done to
the machine.

Bawne’s cheek was bleeding from the scratch of a splinter, but he stuck
manfully to the controls.  "Steer south," he had been told, "when I
switch off the hoverer," and he had waited, his teeth set, his brows
knitted, his eyes on the compass, and his heart crying out to God to
save his new-found friend.

He knew it was because he had prayed so hard that the bomb had exploded
prematurely.  Would the Enemy try again with the one that yet remained?
But the Enemy made no sign.  One dared not look round or speak to him.
Was he in a fit, or sick, or merely shamming?  One could feel the big
body heaving at one’s back as it lay huddled against the canvas
partition, with rolling head and arms spread wide, and knees that
straddled and sagged.

Jerk!  The Taube heaved her after-part as a cow gets up, and nose-dived.
Von Herrnung’s feet had slipped from the controls, and her rudder was
flapping free.  As Bawne toed the bar and gripped the guide-wheel, and
brought the keel to a level, the blood in his veins tingled and he knew
a thrill of joy.

One had borne a lot, but—Man alive!—a moment like this was worth it.
What Boy Scout could deny the greatness of this boy’s reward?  To be
master of this giant Bird, rushing at the speed of an express-train over
woods and fields and villages, diminished to the patches on a
crazy-quilt by the height at which one sped.  To hear the shrill breeze
harping in the wires and the roar of the flashing tractor, and change
the din at a finger-touch to the silence of a glide.

West, where the sun was setting in red fire were signs by now familiar.
Linked specks that were big grey German troop-trains ran over the
shining gossamer-lines of the railways, going south.  Where the shining
lines looked like scattered pins, the railways had been blown up by the
Belgians, or the British.  Things like caterpillars crawling over the
white ribbons of the highways were German motor-lorries dragging great
howitzers, or Army Supply and Transport, or marching columns of robust,
bullet-headed German infantrymen.

A blot of grey upon a town was where a Division rested. Strings of grey
spiders hurrying south, would be brigades of cyclist telegraphists or
sharpshooters, and processions of drab beetles scuttling along, Field
Ambulances, or Staff motor-cars.  One would have said that a green-grey
blight had fallen upon Belgium, swiftly advancing, stayed by nothing,
devouring as it moved.

East, where the shadow of the Taube raced beside her like a
carriage-dog, black streaks that were barges still crawled on the
canals, and peasants’ carts crept over the roads—and there were no
columns of troops in view, nor uglier tokens of the War.  Though the red
and brown towns showed scant signs of life, late root-crops were being
harvested; plough-teams were breaking up the stubbles, factory chimneys
were smoking, and acres of linen-web yet spread to bleach along the

Later in the month the grey-green blight was to sweep over all this
region as the Boche retreated before the thrust of the 1st and 4th
British Army Corps, from Houthulst Forest to Menin-on-Lys.

Those voices of the guns were nearer now.  They talked on incessantly.
You felt the air that carried you vibrating as you flew.  The solid
earth heaved up in waves under the dusty golden smoke-drifts veiling the
south horizon. Black pillars of smoke and _débris_ climbed and collapsed
against the dusty gold.  Grey Imperial Staff cars were parked in the
courtyard of a château with pepper-box towers. Officers sat at tables on
the vine-covered terrace, while a farm close by was doing duty as a
casualty-clearing station. You could pick out the flutter of the Red
Cross Flag on a broken tree beside the gateway—and the come and go of
the bearers carrying laden or empty stretchers—and the white armlets of
the _Sanitätskorps_ men who drove the ambulance-cars. To have seen over
and over again what grown folks learned from newspapers was to be a man
seasoned in War, whilst yet one’s bones were young.  Well worth the
hardships one had borne, this sheaf of ripe experience.  Good to know
one had obeyed the Chief who said, "_Quit yourself like a man!_"

So Bawne flew on.  The fiery chrism of a strange second baptism was on
his forehead.  Gates of wonder seemed opening on the horizon towards
which he hastened, guided by the big broad arrow of the reinforced
compass and the thudding of those nearing guns.

Some perception of great issues at stake and marvellous impending
changes, ushering in the revival of the forgotten days of Chivalry, may
have come at this hour to the child so strangely caught and whirled into
the dizzy circles of the maelstrom of International War.  Did a voice
whisper to him that as of old by his Pagan forefathers, babes were
sacrificed to Bel and Odin—so for the cleansing of the sick world of
to-day from the War-madness begotten by greed and materialism a torrent
of rich, warm, generous blood was to be shed from the veins of the
young?  Could he dream that the lower mankind sank, the higher men were
to rise—mounting on stepping-stones of obedience and courage, to those
heights where the human may walk with the Divine? That through long
years to come, bright boys in myriads would drain the wine of Death from
the chalice of Self-Sacrifice, and pass to God who kindled in those
clean young souls the fire that made Him burn to die for men.

The Enemy was rousing from his doze or dwam, or swoon, or whatever had
been the matter with him.  The big body was heaving into an upright
posture, the big foot was knocking in Morse on the bottom of the
fuselage.  The boy looked down and saw blood running there—or was it the
red of the sunset?

"Shut—off—and—look—at me," rapped the foot, and its thrall obeyed and
shrieked at the sight of the horror he was strapped to, glaring with
wild eyes, and spitting unintelligible sentences with bloody splinters
of shattered teeth and red rags of palate and tongue.

"I am damaged, is it not so?  Something hit me when the bomb exploded."
Something like this came in strange sounds from that inhuman face.  And
the boy shrieked again and again, straining at the belt that bound him
to his terrible companion, conscious of nothing but overmastering fear—

"_Quit yourself like a man!_"

He heard the words through the drumming in his ears and his heart left
off leaping.  His brain cleared.  He realised that the Taube was diving
to the ground.  He switched on power and brought down her tail and
pulled up her nose gamely.  They passed through a suffocating mist of
burned chemicals that deposited red powder on your hands and face, and
the glass of your flying-goggles, and parched your lungs like burning
Cayenne pepper—and were over the battle-zone.

As far as the eye could take it in the face of earth was moving.  Death,
like a many-handed mole, seemed working underground.  Huge geysers of
dirt and mud and stones heaved up in thick black smoke and vapour.  The
air shook incessantly with reduplicated concussions.  Buildings tottered
and sank away, and railway bridges melted, and spurts of blinding fire
leaped from invisible mouths of guns.

The revolutions were slowing down.  The Taube travelled painfully.
Beneath her bobbed a row of sausage-shaped observation-balloons
straining at their spidery cables, beyond these were the third and
second German lines—whitish furrows stretching East and West, with
little zig-zags, that were communicating-trenches, between.  A thin blue
haze of rifle and machine-gun fire hung over the pitted ground.  The
Advanced lines behind their smear of rust-red barbed wire might have
been sixty yards from the parapet of the British trenches.  Friend and
foe were dying there—and over the hurly-burly, dodging Death in puffs of
woolly vapour, belched from vertical mobile muzzles, directing fire,
signalling, wirelessing, scouting, fighting others who assailed
signallers or scouters—wheeled and circled the Birds of War.  Their
sharp eyes picked him out flying far down beneath them.

"There goes a Hun somebody’s shrapbozzled!" said the pilot of a
R.A.F.B.E., shutting off to speak to his observer.

"Going to crash in a minute," said the observer of the Bleriot
Experimental.  "Where, do you suppose?"

"If he keeps on at that angle," said the pilot from behind his glasses,
"he’ll pass over that nest of Hun machine-guns in the big shell-pit
behind the German Advanced Line, at about a hundred and fifty—and pile
in that ploughfield behind our Gunners."

The Taube was flying low and crookedly—the high crescendo whine of shell
passed over it—heavy metal sent from German batteries—and other shells
from British guns were crashing and bursting near.  The wind was getting
up in the west, and the drift of the machine was trending eastwards, in
spite of anything Bawne could do.  Could one keep flying long enough to
pass the first line of British trenches?  And how would one come to the
ground, knowing nothing about landing—and with a bomb on board!

One must get rid of the devil-egg.  Should one drop it on the enemy’s
trenches?  As he flew towards them a rag of white fluttered, and Bawne
caught his breath.  A long line of grey-green men were jumping like
grasshoppers over the parapet.  They went forwards with their hands up,
waving a White Flag, and from the British trenches came men in khaki
doubling out to take their prisoners....


The khaki figures began to fall.  The grey men were cheering....  The
_rat-tatt_—came from the German machine-guns, pumping out jets of
murderous lead.  Then in a flash Bawne understood, leaned to the right,
and seeing the machine-gun pit beneath him—pulled out the pin, jerked up
the latch, and dropped the devil-egg.  Horrible to think, it would kill
Germans!—but then—to save one’s own dear Englishmen——

"Good Night!  Did you see that?" asked the pilot of the R.A.F.B.E.,
shutting off to address his observer, and immediately switching on
again, for a geyser of earth and stones and fire, and bits of things
that had been men and guns had spurted up from the spot where a moment
since had been the gun-pit, and troubled waves of heated air reached
them at 5000.

"He knows he’s got to come down crash, and jettisoned the lollipop to
improve his chances! ... Civil of him to drop it just when the
Deershires were getting it hot and hot! ... Deserves thanks from the
British C. in C., though his Kaiser won’t be particularly pleased with
him," reflected the R.F.C. observer, as the Taube, flying like a bird
with a wounded wing, crossed the lines of the British trenches, dived
staggeringly, and crashed down in the ploughed field behind the slogging

                             *CHAPTER LXIX*

                       *A MENACE; AND GOOD NEWS*

_Drip, drip!_ ...

The slow dropping of water on the carpet and the sweet, heavy fragrance
of roses, brings me back as it brought Patrine.  She got up and pulled
down the dark blue blinds with the precaution that was becoming habitude
with us at this date, in view of that often bragged-of menace from the
sky.  She switched up the lights and moved to the table, roughly pulled
off the string that tied, and lifted the lid of the cardboard box.

A rich, sweet fragrance that was almost musky enveloped her as she
lifted the thin paper.  A sheaf of roses of flaming sanguine crimson,
tied with black-and-white striped ribbon lay beneath.  Black and white
are the Prussian colours. Black, white, and red the standard of the
Hohenzollern. Patrine knew that von Herrnung had sent the roses, even
before she recognised his writing on a thick white envelope pinned to
the ribbon binding the flowers.

"_If Isis desires news of ’her dearest’, she will open and read the
letter.  From one who does not desire to forget._"

The letter contained a lock of hair, jaggedly cut—she knew from whose
sweet head.  Half blind with tears, she lifted the lock to her lips and
kissed it passionately, before she bent herself to read the careful
English sentences that revealed the man in all his vanity and
lustfulness, insolence, and tyranny, as though the burin of Strang or
the brush of Sargent had etched him upon copper or limned him upon
canvas, to show the world what depths of infamy can be plumbed by the

"_Strong Woman of the race of moral weaklings, have you not yet learned
to be proud that a Prussian soldier prized your beauty, and took it for
his own?  When the fierce men in the proud German Field-grey have
swarmed over the soil of England,—when, amidst the squadron of
night-birds whose feathers gleam mysteriously in the pale moonlight, thy
lover flies onward, singing his war-song, laden with his cargo of
explosives—when the Red Cock crows on the roof-trees of London’s
wilderness of houses and London’s fire-bells, amidst terrific
explosions, ring out the last battle of the century, will Isis then
think of me? Revolvers, carbines, bombs, and poisoned arrows are among
the gifts I shall bring thee in the hand that wears the mascot pearl of
black and white.  Coloured signalling-balls set in the silver of the
searchlight, shall be thy tiara; for thy arms and thy white bosom there
will be strings of rubies outpoured from the broken coffers of the House
of Life.  Our second nuptials will be celebrated by a mitred Death,
amidst the smoking ruins of Westminster Abbey, to the roaring strains of
the German Anthem, ’Now Praise Ye the Lord.’  Till then au revoir! shall
one perhaps say?_

"_Ah, were Isis of the burning beech-leaf tresses not only beautiful but
wise, she would place her hand in the hand that stretches yearningly
over the North Sea.  I wish love more than vengeance; is not that
unnatural for a Hun?  A golden consciousness of happiness yet to come
wells up within me.  Would Isis taste that happiness, let her go to her
window and open it on the night of the day that brings this letter.
There are no Germans in England who are not in prison or under
espionage. No, possibly! yet go to thy window!  A word to him who waits
there, and Isis is once more mine.  But beware of turning my tenderness
by scornful rejection to hatred.  Cold devil!—I should then strike, and
frightfully, at the head whence came this hair.  Look at it well and
answer.  T.v.H._"

She could turn no paler, her hue was that of death already. She dropped
the loathsome letter from her hand upon the roses and thrust the lock of
hair into her bosom, and went to a window and touched the spring of the
blind.  It flew up and revealed her tall shape standing there
silhouetted against the electric radiance in defiance of that boasted
menace from the sky.

The street seemed empty, within the radius of her vision, save for the
dark bulk of a motor-car, standing before a house on the same side some
way down.  Its headlights flashed, once, twice, and again, as though in
answer.  It slid forwards with a low hissing sound: "_Ss’sh!_" it said,
as if in gluttonous anticipation, and stopped opposite the hall-door.
Again the headlights flashed, there was a gleam of yellow enamel.  She
recognised the Darracq car in which von Herrnung had driven her to
Fanshaw’s Flying Ground on that unforgettable eighteenth of July.

Holding her breath, narrowing her long-sighted eyes for better focus,
she scrutinised the driver, recognising in the thick-set figure hunched
over the steering-wheel, wearing a peaked cap pulled low over his
forehead, and a wide white muffler twisted round his throat, the German
who had brought the message from the Three in the blue F.I.A.T. car. She
was sure of him when he touched his cap, looking furtively up at the
window, and switched on a small electric bulb, illuminating the clock
upon the dashboard as though to afford her a view of his face.  Its
bloodshot pale eyes, thick broad nose, and the unwholesome, purplish
colour of the complexion, barred with a big light yellowish moustache
with waxed ends, had stuck in her memory as ugly personal traits will
stick.  Of the slenderer man beside him she had no recollection.  He was
buttoned up in an overcoat with a fur collar, and wore a soft felt hat.
She felt the eyes it shadowed were fastened on her, and recoiled as
though from the touch of something unclean and horrible, roughly
dragging down the blind.

She was brave, but the sense of being almost alone in the house with
those alert, observant eyes outside, spying upon her movements, made her
heart beat suffocatingly, and brought chill damps of deadly terror to
the surface of her skin.  She moved to a chair with a clogging sense of
ultimate effort—the nightmare feeling of striving against a powerful
hypnotic influence, bidding her creep downstairs and open the
street-door, step into the car waiting at the kerbstone, and be borne
away by rushing wheels and whirling screws, or even swifter wings,
perhaps, to that War-torn land where von Herrnung was waiting to exact
his price for sparing the beloved head.

She drew the lock of hair from her bosom and whispered inarticulate
tendernesses to it, stroking its red-gold beauty with fingers and lips.
Not until now those bread white strands amongst the reddish-gold
conveyed their sinister meaning.  When it came it was like a blow
delivered full between the eyes.  She swayed forwards and fell upon her
knees beside the table, her forehead resting on the clenched hand that
held the boy’s hair.  All that was maternal in her fierce, undisciplined
nature urged her now to make the sacrifice.  Remorse for having
forgotten the child in her absorbing love for Sherbrand, was a scourge
of fiery scorpions that urged her to the leap.

Its uselessness, the certainty that von Herrnung would keep no hinted
promise to restore the hostage, would have been no argument to deter
her.  Sherbrand’s influence might have counterpoised, but she had sent
away Sherbrand for his own sake.  Now she would go to Bawne, buy him
back with body and soul, if need be, from the hands of the torturer, or
at least share his agony and die by his side.

Madness was near enough that night to sweep her tattered robe before the
eyes of Patrine, and beckon enticingly with her sceptre of plaited
straw.  She was alone and she had borne so much, and nothing else could
save Lynette’s boy—unless it were a miracle!  Where was God—where was
God now?  Upon that July night of the child’s spiriting away Sherbrand
had bidden her pray that Bawne might be restored to them.  She had
petitioned in a perfunctory way when she had thanked God for taking away
von Herrnung—that the child might be traced and brought back.  Now she
clenched her hands until the nails dug into their palms, and groaned
out, as the dry sobs racked her body, words that sensed after this

"Save him, save him!  For Christ’s love save him—and give him back!  For
the dear sakes of those to whom I have been so ungrateful! hear me—only
hear me! and I will—be different.  I will serve Thee, O God, who have
ignored Thee!  I will confess Thee, I who have denied! ..."

Mean, base, said her pride, to kneel and entreat Him whom you have
neglected and insulted.  Even though He heard, do you think that He
would answer now?  But with desperate effort she thrust away the thought
from her. The Hound of Heaven had leaped upon her, flying.  She felt his
teeth in her garments, holding her back from the invisible hands that
dragged at her.  She knew that unseen forces of Good and Evil were
engaged in furious battle for her soul....  And strangling, she gasped
out incoherent sentences, wild appeals to the Divine Pity....  In the
midst of these, startling her like a thunderclap, came a hurried
knocking at the door.

"Miss Pat!"

It was the voice of Mrs. Keyse, and as Patrine stumbled to her feet and
stood wild-eyed and shaking, the little, matronly figure in the black
silk gown of housekeeperly dignity appeared upon the threshold of the

"You—wanted me, Mrs. Keyse?  Is it about the—the yellow car?  Have

The hoarse voice and the white, wrung face conveyed to an ardent lover
of Patrine that something was wrong with her Doctor’s niece.  Tragedy
was in the air—but Discretion is the better Part of Value, and nobody
knew better than Emrigation Jane what fierce passions could boil in the
Saxham blood.

"No, Miss Pat.  It’s not the car, yet, though I fancied I ’eard one stop
here a minute back.  It’s the telephone in the consultin’ room ringin’,
and ringin’,—and Chewse gone to bed," Chewse being the trained maid who
admitted patients and received messages.  "And me with the best will in
the world never could make ’ead or tail of them tellermessages—except
the ’ulloing!  And pre’aps you’d come and write down for the Doctor
whatever it is they’ve got to say...."

"Very well.  Don’t wait, I’m coming directly!"

Mrs. Keyse vanished, and with that dreamlike sense of unreality upon
her, Patrine followed downstairs and passed along the silent corridor.
The electric lamp above the Doctor’s table had been switched on.  She
took the Doctor’s chair and rang-up and waited, sitting where Saxham had
sat when Lynette’s sweet lips first touched his forehead—where the big
man had planned self-murder in the darkest hour of his despair.  The
frayed patch on the Persian rug beneath her feet had been worn by
Saxham’s usage.