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Title: Inside the Lines
Author: Ritchie, Robert Welles, Biggers, Earl Derr
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Inside the Lines" ***

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[Frontispiece: "You must accept my word."]



  INSIDE THE LINES


  _By_

  EARL DERR BIGGERS

  AND

  ROBERT WELLES RITCHIE


  _Founded on Earl Derr Biggers'
  Play of the Same Name_



  INDIANAPOLIS
  THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS



  COPYRIGHT 1915
  THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



  PRESS OF
  BRAUNWORTH & CO.
  BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTERS
  BROOKLYN. N. Y.



  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER

  I Jane Gerson, Buyer
  II From the Wilhelmstrasse
  III Billy Capper at Play
  IV 32 Queen's Terrace
  V A Ferret
  VI A Fugitive
  VII The Hotel Splendide
  VIII Chaff of War
  IX Room D
  X A Visit to a Lady
  XI A Spy in the Signal Tower
  XII Her Country's Example
  XIII Enter, a Cigarette
  XIV The Captain Comes to Tea
  XV The Third Degree
  XVI The Pendulum of Fate
  XVII Three-Thirty A. M.
  XVIII The Trap Is Sprung
  XIX At the Quay



INSIDE THE LINES



CHAPTER I

JANE GERSON, BUYER

"I had two trunks--two, you ninny!  Two!  _Ou est l'autre?_"

The grinning customs guard lifted his shoulders to his ears and spread
out his palms.  "_Mais, mamselle----_"

"Don't you '_mais_' me, sir!  I had two trunks--_deux troncs_--when I
got aboard that wabbly old boat at Dover this morning, and I'm not
going to budge from this wharf until I find the other one.  Where _did_
you learn your French, anyway?  Can't you understand when I speak your
language?"

The girl plumped herself down on top of the unhasped trunk and folded
her arms truculently.  With a quizzical smile, the customs guard looked
down into her brown eyes, smoldering dangerously now, and began all
over again his speech of explanation.

"_Wagon-lit?_"  She caught a familiar word.  "_Mais oui_; that's where
I want to go--aboard your wagon-lit, for Paris.  _Voilà!_"--the girl
carefully gave the word three syllables--"_mon ticket pour Paree!_"
She opened her patent-leather reticule, rummaged furiously therein,
brought out a handkerchief, a tiny mirror, a packet of rice papers, and
at last a folded and punched ticket.  This she displayed with a
triumphant flourish.

"_Voilà!  Il dit_ 'Miss Jane Gerson'; that's me--_moi-meme_, I mean.
And _il dit 'deux troncs'_; now you can't go behind that, can you?
Where is that other trunk?"

A whistle shrilled back beyond the swinging doors of the station.  Folk
in the customs shed began a hasty gathering together of parcels and
shawl straps, and a general exodus toward the train sheds commenced.
The girl on the trunk looked appealingly about her; nothing but bustle
and confusion; no Samaritan to turn aside and rescue a fair traveler
fallen among customs guards.  Her eyes filled with trouble, and for an
instant her reliant mouth broke its line of determination; the lower
lip quivered suspiciously.  Even the guard started to walk away.

"Oh, oh, please don't go!"  Jane Gerson was on her feet, and her hands
shot out in an impulsive appeal.  "Oh, dear; maybe I forgot to tip you.
Here, _attende au secours_, if you'll only find that other trunk before
the train----"

"Pardon; but if I may be of any assistance----"

Miss Gerson turned.  A tallish, old-young-looking man, in a gray lounge
suit, stood heels together and bent stiffly in a bow.  Nothing of the
beau or the boulevardier about his face or manner.  Miss Gerson
accepted his intervention as heaven-sent.

"Oh, thank you ever so much!  The guard, you see, doesn't understand
good French.  I just can't make him understand that one of my trunks is
missing.  And the train for Paris----"

Already the stranger was rattling incisive French at the guard.  That
official bowed low, and, with hands and lips, gave rapid explanation.
The man in the gray lounge suit turned to the girl.

"A little misunderstanding, Miss--ah----"

"Gerson--Jane Gerson, of New York," she promptly supplied.

"A little misunderstanding, Miss Gerson.  The customs guard says your
other trunk has already been examined, passed, and placed on the
baggage van.  He was trying to tell you that it would be necessary for
you to permit a porter to take this trunk to the train before time for
starting.  With your permission----"

The stranger turned and halloed to a porter, who came running.  Miss
Gerson had the trunk locked and strapped in no time, and it was on the
shoulders of the porter.

"You have very little time, Miss Gerson.  The train will be making a
start directly.  If I might--ah--pilot you through the station to the
proper train shed.  I am not presuming?"

"You are very kind," she answered hurriedly.

They set off, the providential Samaritan in the lead.  Through the
waiting-room and on to a broad platform, almost deserted, they went.  A
guard's whistle shrilled.  The stranger tucked a helping hand under
Jane Gerson's arm to steady her in the sharp sprint down a long aisle
between tracks to where the Paris train stood.  It began to move before
they had reached its mid-length.  A guard threw open a carriage door,
in they hopped, and with a rattle of chains and banging of buffers the
Express du Nord was off on its arrow flight from Calais to the capital.

The carriage, which was of the second class, was comfortably filled.
Miss Gerson stumbled over the feet of a puffy Fleming nearest the door,
was launched into the lap of a comfortably upholstered widow on the
opposite seat, ricochetted back to jam an elbow into a French
gentleman's spread newspaper, and finally was catapulted into a vacant
space next to the window on the carriage's far side.  She giggled,
tucked the skirts of her pearl-gray duster about her, righted the chic
sailor hat on her chestnut-brown head, and patted a stray wisp of hair
back into place.  Her meteor flight into and through the carriage
disturbed her not a whit.

As for the Samaritan, he stood uncertainly in the narrow cross aisle,
swaying to the swing of the carriage and reconnoitering seating
possibilities.  There was a place, a very narrow one, next to the fat
Fleming; also there was a vacant place next to Jane Gerson.  The
Samaritan caught the girl's glance in his indecision, read in it
something frankly comradely, and chose the seat beside her.

"Very good of you, I'm sure," he murmured.  "I did not wish to
presume----"

"You're not," the girl assured, and there was something so fresh, so
ingenuous, in the tone and the level glance of her brown eyes that the
Samaritan felt all at once distinctly satisfied with the cast of
fortune that had thrown him in the way of a distressed traveler.  He
sat down with a lifting of the checkered Alpine hat he wore and a stiff
little bow from the waist.

"If I may, Miss Gerson--I am Captain Woodhouse, of the signal service."

"Oh!"  The girl let slip a little gasp--the meed of admiration the
feminine heart always pays to shoulder straps.  "Signal service; that
means the army?"

"His majesty's service; yes, Miss Gerson."

"You are, of course, off duty?" she suggested, with the faintest
possible tinge of regret at the absence of the stripes and buttons that
spell "soldier" with the woman.

"You might say so, Miss Gerson.  Egypt--the Nile country is my station.
I am on my way back there after a bit of a vacation at home--London I
mean, of course."

She stole a quick side glance at the face of her companion.  A
soldier's face it was, lean and school-hardened and competent.  Lines
about the eyes and mouth--the stamp of the sun and the imprint of the
habit to command--had taken from Captain Woodhouse's features something
of freshness and youth, though giving in return the index of inflexible
will and lust for achievement.  His smooth lips were a bit thin, Jane
Gerson thought, and the out-shooting chin, almost squared at the
angles, marked Captain Woodhouse as anything but a trifler or a flirt.
She was satisfied that nothing of presumption or forwardness on the
part of this hard-molded chap from Egypt would give her cause to regret
her unconventional offer of friendship.

Captain Woodhouse, in his turn, had made a satisfying, though covert,
appraisal of his traveling companion by means of a narrow mirror inset
above the baggage rack over the opposite seat.  Trim and petite of
figure, which was just a shade under the average for height and
plumpness; a small head set sturdily on a round smooth neck; face the
very embodiment of independence and self-confidence, with its brown
eyes wide apart, its high brow under the parting waves of golden
chestnut, broad humorous mouth, and tiny nose slightly nibbed upward:
Miss Up-to-the-Minute New York, indeed!  From the cocked red feather in
her hat to the dainty spatted boots Jane Gerson appeared in Woodhouse's
eyes a perfect, virile, vividly alive American girl.  He'd met her kind
before; had seen them browbeating bazaar merchants in Cairo and riding
desert donkeys like strong young queens.  The type appealed to him.

The first stiffness of informal meeting wore away speedily.  The girl
tactfully directed the channel of conversation into lines familiar to
Woodhouse.  What was Egypt like; who owned the Pyramids, and why didn't
the owners plant a park around them and charge admittance?  Didn't he
think Rameses and all those other old Pharaohs had the right idea in
advertising--putting up stone billboards to last all time?  The
questions came crisp and startling; Woodhouse found himself chuckling
at the shrewd incisiveness of them.  Rameses an advertiser and the
Pyramids stone hoardings to carry all those old boys' fame through the
ages!  He'd never looked on them in that light before.

"I say, Miss Gerson, you'd make an excellent business person, now,
really," the captain voiced his admiration.

"Just cable that at my expense to old Pop Hildebrand, of Hildebrand's
department store, New York," she flashed back at him.  "I'm trying to
convince him of just that very thing."

"Really, now; a department shop!  What, may I ask, do you have to do
for--ah--Pop Hildebrand?"

"Oh, I'm his foreign buyer," Jane answered, with a conscious note of
pride.  "I'm over here to buy gowns for the winter season, you see.
Paul Poiret--Worth--Paquin; you've heard of those wonderful people, of
course?"

"Can't say I have," the captain confessed, with a rueful smile into the
girl's brown eyes.

"Then you've never bought a Worth?" she challenged.  "For if you had
you'd not forget the name--or the price--very soon."

"Gowns--and things are not in my line, Miss Gerson," he answered
simply, and the girl caught herself feeling a secret elation.  A man
who didn't know gowns couldn't be very intimately acquainted with
women.  And--well--

"And this Hildebrand, he sends you over here alone just to buy pretties
for New York's wonderful women?" the captain was saying.  "Aren't you
just a bit--ah--nervous to be over in this part of the world--alone?"

"Not in the least," the girl caught him up.  "Not about the alone part,
I should say.  Maybe I am fidgety and sort of worried about making good
on the job.  This is my first trip--my very first as a buyer for
Hildebrand.  And, of course, if I should fall down----"

"Fall down?" Woodhouse echoed, mystified.  The girl laughed, and struck
her left wrist a smart blow with her gloved right hand.

"There I go again--slang; 'vulgar American slang,' you'll call it.  If
I could only rattle off the French as easily as I do New Yorkese I'd be
a wonder.  I mean I'm afraid I won't make good."

"Oh!"

"But why should I worry about coming over alone?" Jane urged.  "Lots of
American girls come over here alone with an American flag pinned to
their shirt-waists and wearing a Baedeker for a wrist watch.  Nothing
ever happens to them."

Captain Woodhouse looked out on the flying panorama of straw-thatched
houses and fields heavy with green grain.  He seemed to be balancing
words.  He glanced at the passenger across the aisle, a wizened little
man, asleep.  In a lowered voice he began:

"A woman alone--over here on the Continent at this time; why, I very
much fear she will have great difficulties when the--ah--trouble comes."

"Trouble?"  Jane's eyes were questioning.

"I do not wish to be an alarmist, Miss Gerson," Captain Woodhouse
continued, hesitant.  "Goodness knows we've had enough calamity
shouters among the Unionists at home.  But have you considered what you
would do--how you would get back to America in case of--war?"  The last
word was almost a whisper.

"War?" she echoed.  "Why, you don't mean all this talk in the papers
is----"

"Is serious, yes," Woodhouse answered quietly.  "Very serious."

"Why, Captain Woodhouse, I thought you had war talk every summer over
here just as our papers are filled each spring with gossip about how
Tesreau is going to jump to the Feds, or the Yanks are going to be
sold.  It's your regular midsummer outdoor sport over here, this
stirring up the animals."

Woodhouse smiled, though his gray eyes were filled with something not
mirth.

"I fear the animals are--stirred, as you say, too far this time," he
resumed.  "The assassination of the Archduke Ferd----"

"Yes, I remember I did read something about that in the papers at home.
But archdukes and kings have been killed before, and no war came of it.
In Mexico they murder a president before he has a chance to send out
'At home' cards."

"Europe is so different from Mexico," her companion continued, the
lines of his face deepening.  "I am afraid you over in the States do
not know the dangerous politics here; you are so far away; you should
thank God for that.  You are not in a land where one man--or two or
three--may say, 'We will now go to war,' and then you go, willy-nilly."

The seriousness of the captain's speech and the fear that he could not
keep from his eyes sobered the girl.  She looked out on the
sun-drenched plains of Pas de Calais, where toy villages, hedged
fields, and squat farmhouses lay all in order, established, seeming for
all time in the comfortable doze of security.  The plodding manikins in
the fields, the slumberous oxen drawing the harrows amid the beet rows,
pigeons circling over the straw hutches by the tracks' side--all this
denied the possibility of war's corrosion.

"Don't you think everybody is suffering from a bad dream when they say
there's to be fighting?" she queried.  "Surely it is impossible that
folks over here would all consent to destroy this."  She waved toward
the peaceful countryside.

"A bad dream, yes.  But one that will end in a nightmare," he answered.
"Tell me, Miss Gerson, when will you be through with your work in
Paris, and on your way back to America?"

"Not for a month; that's sure.  Maybe I'll be longer if I like the
place."

Woodhouse pondered.

"A month.  This is the tenth of July.  I am afraid----  I say, Miss
Gerson, please do not set me down for a meddler--this short
acquaintance, and all that; but may I not urge on you that you finish
your work in Paris and get back to England at least in two weeks?"  The
captain had turned, and was looking into the girl's eyes with an
earnest intensity that startled her.  "I can not tell you all I know,
of course.  I may not even know the truth, though I think I have a bit
of it, right enough.  But one of your sort--to be caught alone on this
side of the water by the madness that is brewing!  By George, I do not
like to think of it!"

"I thank you, Captain Woodhouse, for your warning," Jane answered him,
and impulsively she put out her hand to his.  "But, you see, I'll have
to run the risk.  I couldn't go scampering back to New York like a
scared pussy-cat just because somebody starts a war over here.  I'm on
trial.  This is my first trip as buyer for Hildebrand, and it's a case
of make or break with me.  War or no war, I've got to make good.
Anyway"--this with a toss of her round little chin--"I'm an American
citizen, and nobody'll dare to start anything with me."

"Right you are!"  Woodhouse beamed his admiration.  "Now we'll talk
about those skyscrapers of yours.  Everybody back from the States has
something to say about those famous buildings, and I'm fairly burning
for first-hand information from one who knows them."

Laughingly she acquiesced, and the grim shadow of war was pushed away
from them, though hardly forgotten by either.  At the man's prompting,
Jane gave intimate pictures of life in the New World metropolis,
touching with shrewd insight the fads and shams of New York's denizens
even as she exalted the achievements of their restless energy.

Woodhouse found secret amusement and delight in her racy nervous
speech, in the dexterity of her idiom and patness of her
characterizations.  Here was a new sort of for him.  Not the languid
creature of studied suppression and feeble enthusiasm he had known, but
a virile, vivid, sparkling woman of a new land, whose impulses were as
unhindered as her speech was heterodox.  She was a woman who worked for
her living; that was a new type, too.  Unafraid, she threw herself into
the competition of a man's world; insensibly she prided herself on her
ability to "make good"--expressive Americanism, that,--under any
handicap.  She was a woman with a "job"; Captain Woodhouse had never
before met one such.

Again, here was a woman who tried none of the stale arts and tricks of
coquetry; no eyebrow strategy or maidenly simpering about Jane Gerson.
Once sure Woodhouse was what she took him to be, a gentleman, the girl
had established a frank basis of comradeship that took no reckoning of
the age-old conventions of sex allure and sex defense.  The
unconventionality of their meeting weighed nothing with her.  Equally
there was not a hint of sophistication on the girl's part.

So the afternoon sped, and when the sun dropped over the maze of spires
and chimney pots that was Paris, each felt regret at parting.

"To Egypt, yes," Woodhouse ruefully admitted.  "A dreary deadly 'place
in the sun' for me.  To have met you, Miss Gerson; it has been
delightful, quite."

"I hope," the girl said, as Woodhouse handed her into a taxi, "I hope
that _if_ that war comes it will find you still in Egypt, away from the
firing-line."

"Not a fair thing to wish for a man in the service," Woodhouse
answered, laughing.  "I may be more happy when I say my best wish for
you is that _when_ the war comes it will find you a long way from
Paris.  Good-by, Miss Gerson, and good luck!"

Captain Woodhouse stood, heels together and hat in hand, while her taxi
trundled off, a farewell flash of brown eyes rewarding him for the
military correctness of his courtesy.  Then he hurried to another
station to take a train--not for a Mediterranean port and distant
Egypt, but for Berlin.



CHAPTER II

FROM THE WILHELMSTRASSE

"It would be wiser to talk in German," the woman said.  "In these times
French or English speech in Berlin----" she finished, with a lifting of
her shapely bare shoulders, sufficiently eloquent.  The waiter speeded
his task of refilling the man's glass and discreetly withdrew.

"Oh, I'll talk in German quick enough," the man assented, draining his
thin half bubble of glass down to the last fizzing residue in the stem.
"Only just show me you've got the right to hear, and the good fat
bank-notes to pay; that's all."  He propped his sharp chin on a hand
that shook slightly, and pushed his lean flushed face nearer hers.  An
owlish caution fought the wine fancies in his shifting lynx eyes under
reddened lids; also there was admiration for the milk-white skin and
ripe lips of the woman by his side.  For an instant--half the time of a
breath--a flash of loathing made the woman's eyes tigerish; but at once
they changed again to mild bantering.

"So?  Friend Billy Capper, of Brussels, has a touch of the spy fever
himself, and distrusts an old pal?"  She laughed softly, and one slim
hand toyed with a heavy gold locket on her bosom.  "Friend Billy Capper
forgets old times and old faces--forgets even the matter of the Lord
Fisher letters----"

"Chop it, Louisa!"  The man called Capper lapsed into brusk English as
he banged the stem of his wineglass on the damask.  "No sense in raking
that up again--just because I ask you a fair question--ask you to
identify yourself in your new job."

"We go no further, Billy Capper," she returned, speaking swiftly in
German; "not another word between us unless you obey my rule, and talk
this language.  Why did you get that message through to me to meet you
here in the Café Riche to-night if you did not trust me?  Why did you
have me carry your offer to--to headquarters and come here ready to
talk business if it was only to hum and haw about my identifying
myself?"

The tenseness of exaggerated concentration on Capper's gaunt face began
slowly to dissolve.  First the thin line of shaven lips flickered and
became weak at down-drawn corners; then the frown faded from about the
eyes, and the beginnings of tears gathered there.  Shrewdness and the
stamp of cunning sped entirely, and naught but weakness remained.

"Louisa--Louisa, old pal; don't be hard on poor Billy Capper," he
mumbled.  "I'm down, girl--away down again.  Since they kicked me out
at Brussels I haven't had a shilling to bless myself with.  Can't go
back to England--you know that; the French won't have me, and here I
am, my dinner clothes my only stock in trade left, and you even having
to buy the wine."  A tear of self-pity slipped down the hard drain of
his cheek and splashed on his hand.  "But I'll show 'em, Louisa!  They
can't kick me out of the Brussels shop like a dog and not pay for it!
I know too much, I do!"

"And what you know about the Brussels shop you want to sell to
the--Wilhelmstrasse?" the woman asked tensely.

"Yes, if the Wilhelmstrasse is willing to pay well for it," Capper
answered, his lost cunning returning in a bound.

"I am authorized to judge how much your information is worth," his
companion declared, leveling a cold glance into Capper's eyes.  "You
can tell me what you know, and depend on me to pay well, or--we part at
once."

"But, Louisa"--again the whine--"how do I know you're what you say?
You've flown high since you and I worked together in the Brussels shop.
The Wilhelmstrasse--most perfect spy machine in the world!  How I'd
like to be in your shoes, Louisa!"

She detached the heavy gold locket from the chain on her bosom, with a
quick twist of slim fingers had one side of the case open, then laid
the locket before him, pointing to a place on the bevel of the case.
Capper swept up the trinket, looked searchingly for an instant at the
spot the woman had designated, and returned the locket to her hand.

"Your number in the Wilhelmstrasse," he whispered in awe.  "Genuine, no
doubt.  Saw the same sort of mark once before in Rome.  All right.
Now, listen, Louisa.  What I'm going to tell you about where Brussells
stands in this--this business that's brewing will make the German
general staff sit up."  The woman inclined her head toward Capper's.
He, looking not at her but out over the rich plain of brocades,
broadcloths and gleaming shoulders, began in a monotone:

"When the war comes--the day the war starts, French artillerymen will
be behind the guns at Namur.  The English----"

The Hungarian orchestra of forty strings swept into a wild gipsy chant.
Dissonances, fierce and barbaric, swept like angry tides over the
brilliant floor, of the café.  Still Capper talked on, and the woman
called Louisa bent her jewel-starred head to listen.  Her face, the
face of a fine animal, was set in rapt attention.

"You mark my words," he finished, "when the German army enters Brussels
proof of what I'm telling you will be there.  Yes, in a pigeonhole of
the foreign-office safe those joint plans between England and Belgium
for resisting invasion from the eastern frontier.  If the Germans
strike as swiftly as I think they will the foreign-office Johnnies will
be so flustered in moving out they'll forget these papers I'm telling
you about.  Then your Wilhelmstrasse will know they've paid for the
truth when they paid Billy Capper."

Capper eagerly reached for his glass, and, finding it empty, signaled
the waiter.

"I'll buy this one, Louisa," he said grandiloquently.  "Can't have a
lady buying me wine all night."  He gave the order.  "You're going to
slip me some bank-notes to-night--right now, aren't you, Louisa, old
pal?"  Capper anxiously honed his cheeks with a hand that trembled.
The woman's eyes were narrowed in thought.

"If I give you anything to-night, Billy Capper, you'll get drunker than
you are now, and how do I know you won't run to the first English
secret-service man you meet and blab?"

"Louisa!  Louisa!  Don't say that!"  Great fear and great yearning sat
in Capper's filmed eyes.  "You know I'm honest, Louisa!  You wouldn't
milk me this way--take all the info I've got and then throw me over
like a dog!"  Cold scorn was in her glance.

"Maybe I might manage to get you a position--with the Wilhelmstrasse."
She named the great secret-service office under her breath.  "You can't
go back to England, to be sure; but you might be useful in the Balkans,
where you're not known, or even in Egypt.  You have your good points,
Capper; you're a sly little weasel--when you're sober.  Perhaps----"

"Yes, yes; get me a job with the Wilhelmstrasse, Louisa!"  Capper was
babbling in an agony of eagerness.  "You know my work.  You can vouch
for me, and you needn't mention that business of the Lord Fisher
letters; you were tarred pretty much with the same brush there, Louisa.
But, come, be a good sport; pay me at least half of what you think my
info's worth, and I'll take the rest out in salary checks, if you get
me that job.  I'm broke, Louisa!"  His voice cracked in a sob.
"Absolutely stony broke!"

She sat toying with the stem of her wineglass while Capper's clasped
hands on the table opened and shut themselves without his volition.
Finally she made a swift move of one hand to her bodice, withdrew it
with a bundle of notes crinkling between the fingers.

"Three hundred marks now, Billy Capper," she said.  The man echoed the
words lovingly.  "Three hundred now, and my promise to try to get a
number for you with--my people.  That's fair?"

"Fair as can be, Louisa."  He stretched out clawlike fingers to receive
the thin sheaf of notes she counted from her roll.  "Here comes the
wine--the wine I'm buying.  We'll drink to my success at landing a job
with--your people."

"For me no more to-night," the woman answered.  "My cape, please."  She
rose.

"But, I say!" Capper protested.  "Just one more bottle--the bottle I'm
buying.  See, here it is all proper and cooled.  Marks the end of my
bad luck, so it does.  You won't refuse to drink with me to my good
luck that's coming?"

"Your good luck is likely to stop short with that bottle, Billy
Capper," she said, her lips parting in a smile half scornful.  "You
know how wine has played you before.  Better stop now while luck's with
you."

"Hanged if I do!" he answered stubbornly.  "After these months of hand
to mouth and begging for a nasty pint of ale in a common pub--leave
good wine when it's right under my nose?  Not me!"  Still protesting
against her refusal to drink with him the wine he would pay for
himself--the man made that a point of injured honor--Capper grudgingly
helped place the cape of web lace over his companion's white shoulders,
and accompanied her to her taxi.

"If you're here this time to-morrow night--and sober," were her
farewell words, "I may bring you your number in the--you understand;
that and your commission to duty."

"God bless you, Louisa, girl!" Capper stammered thickly.  "I'll not
fail you."

He watched the taxi trundle down the brilliant mirror of Unter den
Linden, a sardonic smile twisting his lips.  Then he turned back to the
world of light and perfume and wine--the world from which he had been
barred these many months and for which the starved body of him had
cried out in agony.  His glass stood brimming; money crinkled in his
pocket; there were eyes for him and fair white shoulders.  Billy
Capper, discredited spy, had come to his own once more.


The orchestra was booming a rag-time, and the chorus on the stage of
the Winter Garden came plunging to the footlights, all in line, their
black legs kicking out from the skirts like thrusting spindles in some
marvelous engine of stagecraft.  They screeched the final line of a
Germanized coon song, the cymbals clanged "Zam-m-m!" and folk about the
clustered tables pattered applause.  Captain Woodhouse, at a table by
himself, pulled a wafer of a watch from his waistcoat pocket, glanced
at its face and looked back at the rococo entrance arches, through
which the late-comers were streaming.

"Henry Sherman, do you think Kitty ought to see this sort of thing?
It's positively indecent!"

The high-pitched nasal complaint came from a table a little to the
right of the one where Woodhouse was sitting.

"There, there, mother!  Now, don't go taking all the joy outa life just
because you're seeing something that would make the minister back in
Kewanee roll his eyes in horror.  This is Germany, mother!"

Out of the tail of his eye, Woodhouse could see the family group
wherein Mrs. Grundy had sat down to make a fourth.  A blocky little man
with a red face and a pinky-bald head, whose clothes looked as if they
had been whipsawed out of the bolt; a comfortably stout matron wearing
a bonnet which even to the untutored masculine eye betrayed its
provincialism; a slim slip of a girl of about nineteen with a face like
a choir boy's--these were the American tourists whose voices had
attracted Woodhouse's attention.  He played an amused eavesdropper, all
the more interested because they were Americans, and since a certain
day on the Calais-Paris express, a week or so gone, he'd had reason to
be interested in all Americans.

"I'm surprised at you, Henry, defending such an exhibition as this,"
the matron's high complaint went on, "when you were mighty shocked at
the bare feet of those innocent Greek dancers the Ladies' Aid brought
to give an exhibition on Mrs. Peck's lawn."

"Well, mother, that was different," the genial little chap answered.
"Kewanee's a good little town, and should stay proper.  Berlin, from
what I can see, is a pretty bad big town--and don't care."  He pulled a
heavy watch from his waistcoat pocket and consulted it.  "Land's sakes,
mother; seven o'clock back home, and the bell's just ringing for
Wednesday-night prayer meeting!  Maybe since it's prayer-meeting night
we might be passing our time better than by looking at
this--ah--exhibition."

There was a scraping of chairs, then:

"Henry, I tell you he does look like Albert Downs--the living image!"
This from the woman, sotto voce.

"Sh!  mother!  What would Albert Downs be doing in Berlin?"  The
daughter was reproving.

"Well, Kitty, they say curiosity once killed a cat; but I'm going to
have a better look.  I'd swear----"

Woodhouse was slightly startled when he saw the woman from America
utilize the clumsy subterfuge of a dropped handkerchief to step into a
position whence she could look at his face squarely.  Also he was
annoyed.  He did not care to be stared at under any circumstances,
particularly at this time.  The alert and curious lady saw his flush of
annoyance, flushed herself, and joined her husband and daughter.

"Well, if I didn't know Albert Downs had a livery business which he
couldn't well leave," floated back the hoarse whisper, "I'd say that
was him setting right there in that chair."

"Come, mother, bedtime and after--in Berlin," was the old gentleman's
admonition.  Woodhouse heard their retreating footsteps, and laughed in
spite of his temporary chagrin at the American woman's curiosity.  He
was just reaching for his watch a second time when a quick step sounded
on the gravel behind him.  He turned.  A woman of ripe beauty had her
hand outstretched in welcome.  She was the one Billy Capper had called
Louisa.  Captain Woodhouse rose and grasped her hand warmly.

"Ah!  So good of you!  I've been expecting----"

"Yes, I'm late.  I could not come earlier."  Salutation and answer were
in German, fluently spoken on the part of each.

"You will not be followed?" Woodhouse asked, assisting her to sit.  She
laughed shortly.

"Hardly, when a bottle of champagne is my rival.  The man will be well
entertained--too well."

"I have been thinking," Woodhouse continued gravely, "that a place
hardly as public as this would have been better for our meeting.
Perhaps----"

"You fear the English agents?  Pah!  They have ears for keyholes only;
they do not expect to use them in a place where there is light and
plenty of people.  You know their clumsiness."  Woodhouse nodded.  His
eyes traveled slowly over the bold beauty of the woman's face.

"The man Capper will do for the stalking horse--a willing nag," went on
the woman in a half whisper across the table.  "You know the ways of
the Wilhelmstrasse.  Capper is what we call 'the target.'  The English
suspect him.  They will catch him; you get his number and do the work
in safety.  We have one man to draw their fire, another to accomplish
the deed.  We'll let the English bag him at Malta--a word placed in the
right direction will fix that--and you'll go on to Alexandria to do the
real work."

"Good, good!" Woodhouse agreed.

"The Wilhelmstrasse will give him a number, and send him on this
mission on my recommendation; I had that assurance before ever I met
the fellow to-night.  They--the big people--know little Capper's
reputation, and, as a matter of fact, I think they are convinced he's a
little less dangerous working for the Wilhelmstrasse than against it.
At Malta the arrest--the firing squad at dawn--and the English are
convinced they've nipped something big in the bud, whereas they've only
put out of the way a dangerous little weasel who's ready to bite any
hand that feeds him."

Woodhouse's level glance never left the eyes of the woman called
Louisa; it was alert, appraising.

"But if there should be some slip-up at Malta," he interjected.  "If
somehow this Capper should get through to Alexandria, wouldn't that
make it somewhat embarrassing for me?"

"Not at all, my dear Woodhouse," she caught him up, with a little pat
on his hand.  "His instructions will be only to report to So-and-so at
Alexandria; he will not have the slightest notion what work he is to do
there.  You can slip in unsuspected by the English, and the trick will
be turned."

For a minute Woodhouse sat watching the cavortings of a dancer on the
stage.  Finally he put a question judiciously:

"The whole scheme, then, is----"

"This," she answered quickly.  "Captain Woodhouse--the real Woodhouse,
you know--is to be transferred from his present post at Wady Halfa, on
the Nile, to Gibraltar--transfer is to be announced in the regular way
within a week.  As a member of the signal service he will have access
to the signal tower on the Rock when he takes his new post, and that,
as you know, will be very important."

"Very important!" Woodhouse echoed dryly.

"This Woodhouse arrives in Alexandria to await the steamer from Suez to
Gib.  He has no friends there--that much we know.  Three men of the
Wilhelmstrasse are waiting there, whose business it is to see that the
real Woodhouse does not take the boat for Gib.  They expect a man from
Berlin to come to them, bearing a number from the Wilhelmstrasse--the
man who is to impersonate Woodhouse and as such take his place in the
garrison on the Rock.  There are two others of the Wilhelmstrasse at
Gibraltar already; they, too, are eagerly awaiting the arrival of
'Woodhouse' from Alexandria.  Capper, with a number, will start from
Berlin for Alexandria.  Capper will never arrive in Alexandria.  You
will."

"With a number--the number expected?" the man asked.

"If you are clever en route--yes," she answered, with a smile.  "Wine,
remember, is Billy Capper's best friend--and worst enemy."

"Then I will hear from you as to the time and route of departure for
Alexandria?"

"To the very hour, yes.  And, now, dear friend----"

Interruption came suddenly from the stage.  The manager, in
shirt-sleeves and with hair wildly rumpled over his eyes, came prancing
out from the wings.  He held up a pudgy hand to check the orchestra.
Hundreds about the tables rose in a gust of excitement, of questioning
wonder.

"_Herren!_"  The stage manager's bellow carried to the farthest arches
of the Winter Garden.  "News just published by the general staff:
Russia has mobilized five divisions on the frontier of East Prussia and
Galicia!"

Not a sound save the sharp catching of breath over all the acre of
tables.  Then the stage manager nodded to the orchestra leader, and in
a fury the brass mouths began to bray.  Men climbed on table tops,
women stood on chairs, and all--all sang in tremendous chorus:

"_Deutschland, Deutschland üeber alles!_"



CHAPTER III

BILLY CAPPER AT PLAY

The night of July twenty-sixth.  The scene is the table-cluttered
sidewalk before the Café Pytheas, where the Cours St. Louis flings its
night tide of idlers into the broader stream of the Cannebière,
Marseilles' Broadway--the white street of the great Provençal port.
Here at the crossing of these two streets summer nights are incidents
to stick in the traveler's mind long after he sees the gray walls of
the Château d'If fade below the steamer's rail.  The flower girls in
their little pulpits pressing dewy violets and fragrant clusters of
rosebuds upon the strollers with persuasive eloquence; the mystical
eyes of hooded Moors who see everything as they pass, yet seem to see
so little; jostling Greeks, Levantines, burnoosed Jews from Algiers and
red-trousered Senegalese--all the color from the hot lands of the
Mediterranean is there.

But on the night of July twenty-sixth the old spirit of indolence, of
pleasure seeking, flirtation, intriguing, which was wont to make this
heart of arc-light life in Marseilles pulse languorously, was gone.
Instead, an electric tenseness was abroad, pervading, infectious.
About each sidewalk table heads were clustered close in conference, and
eloquent hands aided explosive argument.  Around the news kiosk at the
Café Pytheas corner a constant stream eddied.  Men snatched papers from
the pile, spread them before their faces, and blundered into their
fellow pedestrians as they walked, buried in the inky columns.  Now and
again half-naked urchins came charging down the Cannebière, waving
shinplaster extras above their heads--"_L'Allemagne s'arme!  La guerre
vient!_"  Up from the Quai marched a dozen sailors from a torpedo boat,
arms linked so that they almost spanned the Cannebière.  Their
red-tasseled caps were pushed back at cocky angles on their black
heads, and as they marched they shouted in time: "_A Berlin!
Hou--hou!_"

The black shadow of war--the first hallucinations of the great
madness--gripped Marseilles.

For Captain Woodhouse, just in from Berlin that evening, all this
swirling excitement had but an incidental interest.  He sat alone by
one of the little iron tables before the Café Pytheas, sipping his
_boc_, and from time to time his eyes carelessly followed the eddying
of the swarm about the news kiosk.  Always his attention would come
back, however, to center on the thin shoulders of a man sitting fifteen
or twenty feet away with a wine cooler by his side.  He could not see
the face of the wine drinker; he did not want to.  All he cared to do
was to keep those thin shoulders always in sight.  Each time the
solicitous waiter renewed the bottle in the wine cooler Captain
Woodhouse nodded grimly, as a doctor might when he recognized the
symptoms of advancing fever in a patient.

So for two days, from Berlin across to Paris, and now on this third day
here in the Mediterranean port, Woodhouse had kept ever in sight those
thin shoulders and that trembling hand beyond the constantly crooking
elbow.  Not a pleasant task; he had come to loathe and abominate the
very wrinkles in the back of that shiny coat.  But a very necessary
duty it was for Captain Woodhouse to shadow Mr. Billy Capper until--the
right moment should arrive.  They had come down on the same express
together from Paris.  Woodhouse had observed Capper when he checked his
baggage, a single shoddy hand-bag, for _La Vendée_, the French line
ship sailing with the dawn next morning for Alexandria and Port Said
via Malta.  Capper had squared his account at the Hotel Allées de
Meilhan, for the most part a bill for absinth frappés, after dinner
that night, and was now enjoying the night life of Marseilles in
anticipation, evidently, of carrying direct to the steamer with him as
his farewell from France all of the bottled laughter of her peasant
girls he could accommodate.

The harsh memories of how he had been forced to drink the bitter lees
of poverty during the lean months rode Billy Capper hard, and this
night he wanted to fill all the starved chambers of his soul with the
robust music of the grape.  So he drank with a purpose and
purposefully.  That he drank alone was a matter of choice with Capper;
he could have had a pair of dark eyes to glint over a goblet into his
had he wished--indeed, opportunities almost amounted to embarrassment.
But to all advances from the fair, Billy Capper returned merely an
impolite leer.  He knew from beforetime that he was his one best
companion when the wine began to warm him.  So he squared himself to
his pleasure with an abandoned rakishness expressed in the set of his
thin shoulders and the forward droop of his head.

Woodhouse, who watched, noted only one peculiarity in Capper's conduct:
The drinker nursed his stick, a plain, crook-handled malacca, with a
tenderness almost maternal.  It never left his hands.  Once when Capper
dropped it and the waiter made to prop the stick against a near-by
chair, the little spy leaped to his feet and snatched the cane away
with a growl.  Thereafter he propped his chin on the handle, only
removing this guard when he had to tip his head back for another draft
of champagne.

Eleven o'clock came.  Capper rose from the table and looked owlishly
about him.  Woodhouse quickly turned his back to the man, and was
absorbed in the passing strollers.  When he looked back again Capper
was slowly and a little unsteadily making his way around the corner
into the Cannebière.  Woodhouse followed, sauntering.  Capper began a
dilatory exploration of the various cafés along the white street; his
general course was toward the city's slums about the Quai.  Woodhouse,
dawdling about tree boxes and dodging into shadows by black doorways,
found his quarry easy to trail.  And he knew that each of Capper's
sojourns in an oasis put a period to the length of the pursuit.  The
time for him to act drew appreciably nearer with every tipping of that
restless elbow.

Midnight found them down in the reek and welter of the dives and
sailors' frolic grounds.  Now the trailer found his task more
difficult, inasmuch as not only his quarry but he himself was marked by
the wolves.  Dances in smoke-wreathed rooms slackened when Capper
lurched in, found a seat and ordered a drink.  Women with cheeks
carmined like poppies wanted to make predatory love to him; dock rats
drew aside and consulted in whispers.  When Capper retreated from an
evil dive on the very edge of the Quai, Woodhouse, waiting by the
doors, saw that he was not the only shadower.  Close against the dead
walls flanking the narrow pavement a slinking figure twisted and
writhed after the drunkard, now spread-eagling all over the street.

Woodhouse quickened his pace on the opposite sidewalk.  The street was
one lined with warehouses, their closely shuttered windows the only
eyes.  Capper dropped his stick, laboriously halted, and started to go
back for it.  That instant the shadow against the walls detached itself
and darted for the victim.  Woodhouse leaped to the cobbles and gained
Capper's side just as he dropped like a sack of rags under a blow from
the dock rat's fist.

"Son of a pig!  This is my meat; you clear out!"  The humped black
beetle of a man straddling the sprawling Capper whipped a knife from
his girdle and faced Woodhouse.  Quicker than light the captain's right
arm shot out; a thud as of a maul on an empty wine butt, and the Apache
turned a half somersault, striking the cobbles with the back of his
head.  Woodhouse stooped, lifted the limp Capper from the street
stones, and staggered with him to the lighted avenue of the Cannebière,
a block away.  He hailed a late-cruising fiacre, propped Capper in the
seat, and took his place beside him.

"To _La Vendée_, Quai de la Fraternité!" Woodhouse ordered.

The driver, wise in the ways of the city, asked no questions, but
clucked to his crow bait.  Woodhouse turned to make a quick examination
of the unconscious man by his side.  He feared a stab wound; he found
nothing but a nasty cut on the head, made by brass knuckles.  With the
wine helping, any sort of a blow would have put Capper out, he
reflected.

Woodhouse turned his back on the bundle of clothes and reached for the
malacca stick.  Even in his coma its owner grasped it tenaciously at
midlength.  Without trying to disengage the clasp, Woodhouse gripped
the wood near the crook of the handle with his left Hand while with his
right he applied torsion above.  The crook turned on hidden threads and
came off in his hand.  An exploring forefinger in the exposed hollow
end of the cane encountered a rolled wisp of paper.  Woodhouse pocketed
this, substituted in its place a thin clean sheet torn from a card-case
memorandum, then screwed the crook on the stick down on the secret
receptacle.  By the light of a match he assured himself the paper he
had taken from the cane was what he wanted.

"Larceny from the person--guilty," he murmured, with a wry smile of
distaste.  "But assault--unpremeditated."

The conveyance trundled down a long spit of stone and stopped by the
side of a black hull, spotted with round eyes of light.  The driver,
scenting a tip, helped Woodhouse lift Capper to the ground and prop him
against a bulkhead.  A bos'n, summoned from _La Vendée_ by the cabby's
shrill whistle, heard Woodhouse's explanation with sympathy.

"Occasionally, yes, m'sieu, the passengers from Marseilles have these
regrets at parting," he gravely commented, accepting the ticket
Woodhouse had rummaged from the unconscious man's wallet and a crinkled
note from Woodhouse's.  Up the gangplank, feet first, went the new
agent of the Wilhelmstrasse.  The one who called himself "captain in
his majesty's signal service" returned to his hotel.

At dawn, _La Vendée_ cleared the harbor for Alexandria via Malta,
bearing a very sick Billy Capper to his destiny.  Five hours later the
Castle liner, _Castle Claire_, for the Cape via Alexandria and Suez
direct, sailed out of the Old Port, among her passengers a Captain
Woodhouse.



CHAPTER IV

32 QUEEN'S TERRACE

Many a long starlit hour alone on the deck of the _Castle Claire_
Captain Woodhouse found himself tortured by a persistent vision.  Far
back over the northern horizon lay Europe, trembling and breathless
before the imminent disaster--a great field of grain, each stalk
bearing for its head the helmeted head of a man.  Out of the east came
a glow, which spread from boundary to boundary, waxed stronger in the
wind of hate.  Finally the fire, devastating, insensate, began its
sweep through the close-standing mazes of the grain.  Somewhere in this
fire-glow and swift leveling under the scythe of the flame was a girl,
alone, appalled.  Woodhouse could see her as plainly as though a cinema
was unreeling swift pictures before him--the girl caught in this vast
acreage of fire, in the standing grain, with destruction drawing nearer
in incredible strides.  He saw her wide eyes, her streaming hair--saw
her running through the grain, whose heads were the helmeted heads of
men.  Her hands groped blindly and she was calling--calling, with none
to come in aid.  Jane Gerson alone in the face of Europe's burning!

Strive as he would, Woodhouse could not screen this picture from his
eyes.  He tried to hope that ere this, discretion had conquered her
resolution to "make good," and that she had fled from Paris, one of the
great army of refugees who had already begun to pour out of the gates
of France when he passed through the war-stunned capital a few days
before.  But, no; there was no mistaking the determination he had read
in those brown eyes that day on the express from Calais.  "I couldn't
go scampering back to New York just because somebody starts a war over
here."  Brave, yes; but hers was the bravery of ignorance.  This little
person from the States, on her first venture into the complex life of
the Continent, could not know what war there would mean; the terror and
magnitude of it.  And now where was she?  In Paris, caught in its
hysteria of patriotism and darkling fear of what the morrow would bring
forth?  Or had she started for England, and become wedged in the jam of
terrified thousands battling for place on the Channel steamers?  Was
her fine self-reliance upholding her, or had the crisis sapped her
courage and thrown her back on the common helplessness of women before
disaster?

Captain Woodhouse, the self-sufficient and aloof, whose training had
been all toward suppression of every instinct save that in the line of
duty, was surprised at himself.  That a little American inconnu--a
"business person," he would have styled her under conditions less
personal--should have come into his life in this definite way was, to
say the least, highly irregular.  The man tried to swing his reason as
a club against his heart--and failed miserably.  No, the fine brave
spirit that looked out of those big brown eyes would not be argued out
of court.  Jane Gerson was a girl who was _different_, and that very
difference was altogether alluring.  Woodhouse caught himself going
over the incidents of their meeting.  Fondly he reviewed scraps of
their conversation on the train, lingering on the pat slang she used so
unconsciously.

Was it possible Jane Gerson ever had a thought for Captain Woodhouse?
The man winced a little at this speculation.  Had it been fair of him
when he so glibly practised a deception on her?  If she knew what his
present business was, would she understand; would she approve?  Could
this little American ever know, or believe, that some sorts of service
were honorable?

Just before the _Castle Claire_ raised the breakwater of Alexandria
came a wireless, which was posted at the head of the saloon
companionway:


"Germany declares war on Russia.  German flying column reported moving
through Luxemburg on Belgium."


The fire was set to the grain.

Upon landing, Captain Woodhouse's first business was to go to a hotel
on the Grand Square, which is the favorite stopping place of officers
coming down from the Nile country.  He fought his way through the
predatory hordes of yelling donkey boys and obsequious dragomans at the
door, and entered the palm-shaded court, which served as office and
lounge.  Woodhouse paused for a second behind a screen of palm leaves
and cast a quick eye around the court.  None of the loungers there was
known to him.  He strode to the desk.

"Ah, sir, a room with bath, overlooking the gardens on the north
side--very cool."  The Greek clerk behind the desk smiled a welcome.

"Perhaps," Woodhouse answered shortly, and he turned the register
around to read the names of the recent comers.  On the first page he
found nothing to interest him; but among the arrivals of the day before
he saw this entry: "C. G. Woodhouse, Capt. Sig. Service; Wady Halfa."
After it was entered the room number: "210."

Woodhouse read right over the name and turned another page a bit
impatiently.  This he scanned with seeming eagerness, while the clerk
stood with pen poised.

"Um!  When is the first boat out for Gibraltar?" Woodhouse asked.

"Well, sir, the _Princess Mary_ is due to sail at dawn day after
to-morrow," the Greek answered judiciously.  "She is reported at Port
Said to-day, but, of course, the war----"

Woodhouse turned away.

"But you wish a room, sir--nice room, with bath, overlooking----"

"No."

"You expected to find a friend, then?"

"Not here," Woodhouse returned bruskly, and passed out into the
blinding square.

He strode swiftly around the statue of Mehemet Ali and plunged into the
bedlam crowd filling a side street.  With sure sense of direction, he
threaded the narrow alleyways and by-streets until he had come to the
higher part of the mongrel city, near the Rosetta Gate.  There he
turned into a little French hotel, situated far from the disordered
pulse of the city's heart; a sort of pension, it was, known only to the
occasional discriminating tourist.  Maitre Mouquère was proud of the
anonymity his house preserved, and abhorred poor, driven Cook's slaves
as he would a plague.  In his Cap de Liberté one was lost to all the
world of Alexandria.

Thither the captain's baggage had been sent direct from the steamer.
After a glass with Maitre Mouquère and a half hour's discussion of the
day's great news, Woodhouse pleaded a touch of the sun, and went to his
room.  There he remained, until the gold of sunset had faded from the
Mosque of Omar's great dome and all the city from Pharos and its harbor
hedge of masts to El Meks winked with lights.  Then he took carriage to
the railroad station and entrained for Ramleh.  What South Kensington
is to London and the Oranges are to New York, Ramleh is to
Alexandria--the suburb of homes.  There pretty villas lie in the lap of
the delta's greenery, skirted by canals, cooled by the winds off
Aboukir Bay and shaded by great palms--the one beauty spot in all the
hybrid product of East and West that is the present city of Alexander.

Remembering directions he had received in Berlin, Woodhouse threaded
shaded streets until he paused before a stone gateway set in a high
wall.  On one of the pillars a small brass plate was inset.  By the
light of a near-by arc, Woodhouse read the inscription on it:

  EMIL KOCH, M.D.,
    32 Queen's Terrace.


He threw back his shoulders with a sudden gesture, which might have
been taken for that of a man about to make a plunge, and rang the bell.
The heavy wooden gate, filling all the space of the arch, was opened by
a tall Numidian in house livery of white.  He nodded an affirmative to
Woodhouse's question, and led the way through an avenue of flaming
hibiscus to a house, set far back under heavy shadow of acacias.  On
every hand were gardens, rank foliage shutting off this walled yard
from the street and neighboring dwellings.  The heavy gate closed
behind the visitor with a sharp snap.  One might have said that Doctor
Koch lived in pretty secure isolation.

Woodhouse was shown into a small room off the main hall, by its
furnishings and position evidently a waiting-room for the doctor's
patients.  The Numidian bowed, and disappeared.  Alone, Woodhouse rose
and strolled aimlessly about the room, flipped the covers of magazines
on the table, picked up and hefted the bronze Buddha on the onyx
mantel, noted, with a careless glance, the position of the two windows
in relation to the entrance door and the folding doors, now shut, which
doubtless gave on the consultation room.  As he was regarding these
doors they rolled back and a short thickset man, with a heavy mane of
iron-gray hair and black brush of beard, stood between them.  He looked
at Woodhouse through thick-lensed glasses, which gave to his stare a
curiously intent bent.

"My office hours are from two to four, afternoons," Doctor Koch said.
He spoke in English, but his speech was burred by a slight heaviness on
the aspirants, reminiscent of his mother tongue.  The doctor did not
ask Woodhouse to enter the consultation room, but continued standing
between the folding doors, staring fixedly through his thick lenses.

"I know that, Doctor," Woodhouse began apologetically, following the
physician's lead and turning his tongue to English.  "But, you see, in
a case like mine I have to intrude"--it was "haf" and "indrude" as
Woodhouse gave these words--"because I could not be here during your
office hours.  You will pardon?"

Doctor Koch's eyes widened just perceptibly at the hint of a Germanic
strain in his visitor's speech--just a hint quickly glossed over.  But
still he remained standing in his former attitude of annoyance.

"Was the sun, then, too hot to bermit you to come to my house during
regular office hours?  At nights I see no batients--bositively none."

"The sun--perhaps," Woodhouse replied guardedly.  "But as I happened
just to arrive to-day from Marseilles, and your name was strongly
recommended to me as one to consult in a case such as mine----"

"Where was my name recommended to you, and by whom?" Doctor Koch
interrupted in sudden interest.

Woodhouse looked at him steadily.  "In Berlin--and by a friend of
yours," he answered.

"Indeed?"  The doctor stepped back from the doors, and motioned his
visitor into the consultation room.

Woodhouse stepped into a large room lighted by a single green-shaded
reading lamp, which threw a white circle of light straight down upon a
litter of thin-bladed scalpels in a glass dish of disinfectant on a
table.  The shadowy outlines of an operating chair, of high-shouldered
bookcases, and the dull glint of instruments in a long glass case were
almost imperceptible because of the centering of all light upon the
glass dish of knives.  Doctor Koch dragged a chair out from the
shadows, and, carelessly enough, placed it in the area of radiance; he
motioned Woodhouse to sit.  The physician leaned carelessly against an
arm of the operating chair; his face was in the shadow save where
reflected light shone from his glasses, giving them the aspect of
detached eyes.

"So, a friend--a friend in Berlin told you to consult me, eh?  Berlin
is a long way from Ramleh--especially in these times.  Greater
physicians than I live in Berlin.  Why----"

"My friend in Berlin told me you were the only physician who could help
me in my peculiar trouble."  Imperceptibly the accenting of the
aspirants in Woodhouse's speech grew more marked; his voice took on a
throaty character.  "By some specialists my life even has been set to
end in a certain year, so sure is fate for those afflicted like myself."

"So?  What year is it, then, you die?"  Doctor Koch's strangely
detached eyes--those eyes of glass glowing dimly in the shadow--seemed
to flicker palely with a light all their own.  Captain Woodhouse,
sitting under the white spray of the shaded incandescent, looked up
carelessly to meet the stare.

"Why, they give me plenty of time to enjoy myself," he answered, with a
light laugh.  "They say in 1932----"

"Nineteen thirty-two!"  Doctor Koch stepped lightly to the closed
folding doors, trundled them back an inch to assure himself nobody was
in the waiting-room, then closed and locked them.  He did similarly by
a hidden door on the opposite side of the room, which Woodhouse had not
seen.  After that he pulled a chair close to his visitor and sat down,
his knees almost touching the other's.  He spoke very low, in German:

"If your trouble is so serious that you will die--in 1932, I must, of
course, examine you for--symptoms."

For half a minute the two men looked fixedly at each other.
Woodhouse's right hand went slowly to the big green scarab stuck in his
cravat.  He pulled the pin out, turned it over in his fingers, and by
pressure caused the scarab to pop out of the gold-backed setting
holding it.  The bit of green stone lay in the palm of his left hand,
its back exposed.  In the hollowed back of the beetle was a small
square of paper, folded minutely.  This Woodhouse removed, unfolded and
passed to the physician.  The latter seized it avidly, holding it close
to his spectacled eyes, and then spreading it against the light as if
to read a secret water mark.  A smile struggled through the jungle of
his beard.  He found Woodhouse's hand and grasped it warmly.

"Your symptom tallies with my diagnosis, Nineteen Thirty-two," he began
rapidly.  "Five days ago we heard from--the Wilhelmstrasse--you would
come.  We have expected you each day, now.  Already we have got word
through to our friends at Gibraltar of the plan; they are waiting for
you."

"Good!" Woodhouse commented.  He was busy refolding the thin slip of
paper that had been his talisman, and fitting it into the back of the
scarab.  "Woodhouse--he is already at the Hotel Khedive; saw his name
on the register when I landed from the Castle this morning."  Now the
captain was talking in familiar German.

"Quite so," Doctor Koch put in.  "Woodhouse came down from Wady Halfa
yesterday.  Our man up there had advised of the time of his arrival in
Alexandria to the minute.  The captain has his ticket for the _Princess
Mary_, which sails for Gibraltar day after to-morrow at dawn."

Number Nineteen Thirty-two listened to Doctor Koch's outlining of the
plot with set features; only his eyes showed that he was acutely alive
to every detail.  Said he:

"But Woodhouse--this British captain who's being transferred from the
Nile country to the Rock; has he ever served there before?  If he has,
why, when I get there--when I am Captain Woodhouse, of the signal
service--I will be embarrassed if I do not know the ropes."

"Seven years ago Woodhouse was there for a very short time," Doctor
Koch explained.  "New governor since then--changes all around in the
personnel of the staff, I don't doubt.  You'll have no trouble."

Silence between them for a minute, broken by the captain:

"Our friends at Gib--who are they, and how will I know them?"

The doctor bent a sudden glance of suspicion upon the lean face before
him.  His thick lips clapped together stubbornly.

"Aha, my dear friend; you are asking questions.  In my time at Berlin
the Wilhelmstrasse taught that all orders and information came from
above--and from there only.  Why----"

"I suppose in default of other information I may ask the governor to
point out the Wilhelmstrasse men," Woodhouse answered, with a shrug.
"I was told at Berlin I would learn all that was necessary to me as I
went along, therefore, I supposed----"

"Come--come!"  Doctor Koch patted the other's shoulder, with a heavy
joviality.  "So you will.  When you arrive at Gib, put up at the Hotel
Splendide, and you will not be long learning who your friends are.  I,
for instance, did not hesitate overmuch to recognize you, and I am
under the eyes of the English here at every turn, even though I am a
naturalized English citizen--and of undoubted loyalty."  He finished
with a booming laugh.

"But Woodhouse; you have arranged a way to have him drop out of sight
before the _Princess Mary_ sails?  There will be no confusion--no
slip-up?"

"Do not fear," the physician reassured.  "Everything will be arranged.
His baggage will leave the Hotel Khedive for the dock to-morrow night;
but it will not reach the dock.  Yours----"

"Will be awaiting the transfer of tags at the Cap de
Liberté--Mouquère's little place," the captain finished.  "But the man
himself--you're not thinking of mur----"

"My dear Nineteen Thirty-two," Doctor Koch interrupted, lifting
protesting hands; "we do not use such crude methods; they are
dangerous.  The real Captain Woodhouse will not leave Alexandria--by
sea, let us say--for many months.  Although I have no doubt he will not
be found in Alexandria the hour the _Princess Mary_ sails.  The papers
he carries--the papers of identity and of transfer from Wady Halfa to
Gibraltar--will be in your hands in plenty of time.  You----"

The doctor stopped abruptly.  A hidden electric buzzer somewhere in the
shadowed room was clucking an alarm.  Koch pressed a button at the side
of the operating chair.  There was a sound beyond closed doors of some
one passing through a hallway; the front door opened and closed.

"Some one at the gate," Doctor Koch explained.  "Cæsar, my playful
little Numidian--and an artist with the Bedouin dagger is Cæsar--he
goes to answer."

Their talk was desultory during the next minutes.  The doctor seemed
restless under the suspense of a pending announcement as to the late
visitor.  Finally came a soft tapping on the hidden door behind
Woodhouse.  The latter heard the doctor exchange whispers with the
Numidian in the hallway.  Finally, "Show him into the waiting-room,"
Koch ordered.  He came back to where the captain was sitting, a puzzled
frown between his eyes.

"An Englishman, Cæsar says--an Englishman, who insists on seeing
me--very important."  Koch bit the end of one stubby thumb in hurried
thought.  He suddenly whipped open the door of one of the instrument
cases, pulled out a stethoscope, and hooked the two little black
receivers into his ears.  Then he turned to Woodhouse.

"Quick!  Off with your coat and open your shirt.  You are a patient; I
am just examining you when interrupted.  This may be one of these
clumsy English secret-service men, and I might need your alibi."  The
sound of an opening door beyond the folding doors and of footsteps in
the adjoining room.

"You say you are sleepless at night?" Doctor Koch was talking English.
"And you have a temperature on arising?  Hm'm!  This under your tongue,
if you please"--he thrust a clinical thermometer between Woodhouse's
lips; the latter already had his coat off, and was unbuttoning his
shirt.  Koch gave him a meaning glance, and disappeared between the
folding doors, closing them behind him.

The captain, feeling much like a fool with the tiny glass tube
sprouting from his lips, yet with all his faculties strained to
alertness, awaited developments.  If Doctor Koch's hazard should prove
correct and this was an English secret-service man come to arrest him,
wouldn't suspicion also fall on whomever was found a visitor in the
German spy's house?  Arrest and search; examination of his scarab
pin--that would not be pleasant.

He tried to hear what was being said beyond the folding doors, but
could catch nothing save the deep rumble of the doctor's occasional
bass and a higher, querulous voice raised in what might be argument.
Had he dared, Woodhouse would have drawn closer to the crack in the
folding doors so that he could hear what was passing; every instinct of
self-preservation in him made his ears yearn to dissect this murmur
into sense.  But if Doctor Koch should catch him eavesdropping,
embarrassment fatal to his plans might follow; besides, he had a
feeling that eyes he could not see--perhaps the unwinking eyes of the
Numidian, avid for an excuse to put into practise his dexterity with
the Bedouin dagger--were on him.

Minutes slipped by.  The captain still nursed the clinical thermometer.
The mumble and muttering continued to sound through the closed doors.
Suddenly the high whine of the unseen visitor was raised in excitement.
Came clearly through to Woodhouse's ears his passionate declaration:

"But I tell you you've got to recognize me.  My number's Nineteen
Thirty-two.  My ticket was stolen out of the head of my cane somewhere
between Paris and Alexandria.  But I got it all right--got it from the
Wilhelmstrasse direct, with orders to report to Doctor Emil Koch, in
Alexandria!"

Capper!  Capper, who was to be betrayed to the firing squad in Malta,
after his Wilhelmstrasse ticket had passed from his possession.  Capper
on the job!

Woodhouse hurled every foot pound of his will to hear into his ears.
He caught Koch's gruff answer:

"Young man, you're talking madness.  You're talking to a loyal British
subject.  I know nothing about your Wilhelmstrasse or your number.  If
I did not think you were drunk I'd have you held here, to be turned
over to the military as a spy.  Now, go before I change my mind."

Again the querulous protestation of Capper, met by the doctor's
peremptory order.  The captain heard the front door close.  A long
wait, and Doctor Koch's black beard, with the surmounting eyes of thick
glass, appeared at a parting of the folding doors.  Woodhouse, the tiny
thermometer still sticking absurdly from his mouth, met the basilisk
stare of those two ovals of glass with a coldly casual glance.  He
removed the thermometer from between his lips and read it, with a
smile, as if that were part of playing a game.  Still the ghastly stare
from the glass eyes over the bristling beard, searching--searching.

"Well," Woodhouse said lightly, "no need of an alibi evidently."

Doctor Koch stepped into the room with the lightness of a cat, walked
to a desk drawer at one side, and fumbled there a second, his back to
his guest.  When he turned he held a short-barreled automatic at his
hip; the muzzle covered the shirt-sleeved man in the chair.

"Much need--for an alibi--from you!" Doctor Koch croaked, his voice dry
and flat with rage.  "Much need, Mister Nineteen Thirty-two.  Commence
your explanation immediately, for this minute my temptation is
strong--very strong--to shoot you for the dog you are."

"Is this--ah, customary?"  Woodhouse twiddled the tiny mercury tube
between his fingers and looked unflinchingly at the small round mouth
of the automatic.  "Do you make a practise of consulting a--friend with
a revolver at your hip?"

"You heard--what was said in there!"  Koch's forehead was curiously
ridged and flushed with much blood.

"Did you ask me to listen?  Surely, my dear Doctor, you have provided
doors that are sound-proof.  If I may suggest, isn't it about time that
you explain this--this melodrama?"  The captain's voice was cold; his
lips were drawn to a thin line.  Koch's big head moved from side to
side with a gesture curiously like that of a bull about to charge, but
knowing not where his enemy stands.  He blurted out:

"For your information, if you did not overhear: An Englishman comes
just now to address me familiarly as of the Wilhelmstrasse.  He comes
to say he was sent to report to me; that his number in the
Wilhelmstrasse is nineteen thirty-two--nineteen thirty-two, remember;
and I am to give him orders.  Please explain that before I pull this
trigger."

"He showed you his number--his ticket, then?" Woodhouse added this
parenthetically.

"The man said his ticket had been stolen from him some time after he
left Paris--stolen from the head of his cane, where he had it
concealed.  But the number was nineteen thirty-two."  The doctor voiced
this last doggedly.

"You have, of course, had this man followed," the other put in.  "You
have not let him leave this house alone."

"Cæsar was after him before he left the garden gate--naturally.
But----"

Woodhouse held up an interrupting hand.

"Pardon me, Doctor Koch; did you get this fellow's name?"

"He refused to give it--said I wouldn't know him, anyway."

"Was he an undersized man, very thin, sparse hair, and a face showing
dissipation?" Woodhouse went on.  "Nervous, jerky way of
talking--fingers to his mouth, as if to feel his words as they come
out--brandy or wine breath?  Can't you guess who he was?"

"I guess nothing."

"The _target_!"

At the word Louisa had used in describing Capper to Woodhouse, Koch's
face underwent a change.  He lowered his pistol.

"Ach!" he said.  "The man they are to arrest.  And you have the number."

"That was Capper--Capper, formerly of the Belgian office--kicked out
for drunkenness.  One time he sold out Downing Street in the matter of
the Lord Fisher letters; you remember the scandal when they came to
light--his majesty, the kaiser's, Kiel speech referring to them.  He is
a good stalking horse."

Koch's suspicion had left him.  Still gripping the automatic, he sat
down on the edge of the operating chair, regarding the other man
respectfully.

"Come--come, Doctor Koch; you and I can not continue longer at
cross-purposes."  The captain spoke with terse displeasure.  "This man
Capper showed you nothing to prove his claims, yet you come back to
this room and threaten my life on the strength of a drunkard's bare
word.  What his mission is you know; how he got that number, which is
the number I have shown you on my ticket from the Wilhelmstrasse--you
understand how such things are managed.  I happen to know, however,
because it was my business to know, that Capper left Marseilles for
Malta aboard _La Vendée_ four days ago; he was not expected to go
beyond Malta."

Koch caught him up: "But the fellow told me his boat didn't stop at
Malta--was warned by wireless to proceed at all speed to Alexandria,
for fear of the _Breslau_, known to be in the Adriatic."  Woodhouse
spread out his hands with a gesture of finality.

"There you are!  Capper finds himself stranded in Alexandria, knows
somehow of your position as a man of the Wilhelmstrasse--such things
can not be hid from the underground workers; comes here to explain
himself to you and excuse himself for the loss of his number.  Is there
anything more to be said except that we must keep a close watch on him?"

The physician rose and paced the room, his hands clasped behind his
back.  The automatic bobbed against the tails of his long coat as he
walked.  After a minute's restless striding, he broke his step before
the desk, jerked open the drawer, and dropped the weapon in it.  Back
to where Woodhouse was sitting he stalked and held out his right hand
stiffly.

"Your pardon, Number Nineteen Thirty-two!  For my suspicion I
apologize.  But, you see my position--a very delicate one."  Woodhouse
rose, grasped the doctor's hand, and wrung it heartily.

"And now," he said, "to keep this fellow Capper in sight until the
_Princess Mary_ sails and I aboard her as Captain Woodhouse, of Wady
Halfa.  The man might trip us all up."

"He will not; be sure of that," Koch growled, helping Woodhouse into
his coat and leading the way to the folding doors.  "I will have Cæsar
attend to him the minute he comes back to report where Capper is
stopping."

"Until when?" the captain asked, pausing at the gate, to which Koch had
escorted him.

"Here to-morrow night at nine," the doctor answered, and the gate shut
behind him.  Captain Woodhouse, alone under the shadowing trees of
Queen's Terrace, drew in a long breath, shook his shoulders and started
for the station and the midnight train to Alexandria.



CHAPTER V

A FERRET

Consider the mental state of Mr. Billy Capper as he sank into a seat on
the midnight suburban from Ramleh to Alexandria.  Even to the guard,
unused to particular observation of his passengers save as to their
possible propensity for trying to beat their fares, the bundle of
clothes surmounted by a rusty brown bowler which huddled under the
sickly light of the second-class carriage bespoke either a candidate
for a plunge off the quay or a "bloomer" returning from his wassailing.
But the eyes of the man denied this latter hypothesis; sanity was in
them, albeit the merciless sanity that refuses an alternative when fate
has its victim pushed into a corner.  So submerged was Capper under the
flood of his own bitter cogitations that he had not noticed the other
two passengers boarding the train at the little tiled station--a tall,
quietly dressed white man and a Numidian with a cloak thrown over his
white livery.  The latter had faded like a shadow into the third-class
carriage behind the one in which Capper rode.

Here was Capper--poor old Hardluck Billy Capper--floored again, and
just when the tide of bad fortune was on the turn; so ran the minor
strain of self-pity under the brown bowler.  A failure once more, and
through no fault of his own.  No, no!  Hadn't he been ready to deliver
the goods?  Hadn't he come all the way down here from Berlin, faithful
to his pledge to Louisa, the girl in the Wilhelmstrasse, ready and
willing to embark on that important mission of which he was to be told
by Doctor Emil Koch?  And what happens?  Koch turns him into the street
like a dog; threatens to have him before the military as a spy if he
doesn't make himself scarce.  Koch refuses even to admit he'd ever
heard of the Wilhelmstrasse.  Clever beggar!  A jolly keen eye he's got
for his own skin; won't take a chance on being betrayed into the hands
of the English, even when he ought to see that a chap's honest when he
comes and tells a straight story about losing that silly little bit of
paper with his working number on it.  What difference if he can't
produce the ticket when he has the number pat on the tip of his tongue,
and is willing to risk his own life to give that number to a stranger?

Back upon the old perplexity that had kept Capper's brain on strain
ever since the first day aboard _La Vendée_--who had lifted his ticket,
and when was it done?  The man recalled, for the hundredth time, his
awakening aboard the French liner--what a horror that first morning
was, with the ratty little surgeon feeding a fellow aromatic spirits of
ammonia like porridge!  Capper, in this mood of detached review, saw
himself painfully stretching out his arm from his bunk to grasp his
stick the very first minute he was alone in the stateroom; the crooked
handle comes off under his turning, and the white wisp of paper is
stuck in the hollow of the stick.  Blank paper!

Safe as safe could be had been that little square of paper Louisa had
given him with his expense money, from the day he left Berlin
until--when?  To be sure, he had treated himself to a little of the
grape in Paris and, maybe, in Marseilles; but his brain had been clear
every minute.  Oh, Capper would have sworn to that!  The whole business
of the disappearance of his Wilhelmstrasse ticket and the substitution
of the blank was simply another low trick the Capper luck had played on
him.

The train rushed through the dark toward the distant prickly coral bed
of lights, and the whirligig of black despair churned under the brown
bowler.  No beginning, no end to the misery of it.  Each new attempt to
force a little light of hope into the blackness of his plight fetched
up at the same dead wall--here was Billy Capper, hired by the
Wilhelmstrasse, after having been booted out of the secret offices of
England and Belgium--given a show for his white alley--and he couldn't
move a hand to earn his new salary.  Nor could he go back to Berlin,
even though he dared return with confession of the stolen ticket;
Berlin was no place for an Englishman right now, granting he could get
there.  No, he was in the backwash again--this time in this beastly
half-caste city of Alexandria, and with--how much was it now?--with a
beggarly fifteen pounds between himself and the beach.

Out of the ruck of Capper's sad reflections the old persistent call
began to make itself heard before ever the train from Ramleh pulled
into the Alexandria station.  That elusive country of fountains,
incense and rose dreams which can only be approached through the neck
of a bottle spread itself before him alluringly, inviting him to
forgetfulness.  And Capper answered the call.

From the railroad station, he set his course through narrow villainous
streets down to the district on Pharos, where the deep-water men of all
the world gather to make vivid the nights of Egypt.  Behind him was the
faithful shadow, Cæsar, Doctor Koch's man.  The Numidian trailed like a
panther, slinking from cover to cover, bending his body as the big cat
does to the accommodations of the trail's blinds.

Once Capper found himself in a blind alley, turned and strode out of it
just in time to bump heavily into the unsuspected pursuer.  Instantly a
hem of the Numidian's cloak was lifted to screen his face, but not
before the sharp eyes of the Englishman had seen and recognized it.  A
tart smile curled the corners of Capper's mouth as he passed on down
the bazaar-lined street to the Tavern of Thermopylæ, at the next
corner.  So old Koch was taking precautions, eh?  Well, Capper, for
one, could hardly blame him; who wouldn't, under the circumstances?

The Tavern of Thermopylæ was built for the Billy Cappers of the
world--a place of genial deviltry where every man's gold was better
than his name, and no man asked more than to see the color of the
stranger's money.  Here was gathered as sweet a company of assassins as
one could find from Port Said to Honmoku, all gentle to fellows of
their craft under the freemasonry of hard liquor.  Greeks, Levantines,
Liverpool lime-juicers from the Cape, leech-eyed Finns from a Russian's
stoke-hole, tanned ivory runners from the forbidden lands of the
African back country--all that made Tyre and Sidon infamous in Old
Testament police records was represented there.

Capper called for an absinth dripper and established himself in a
deserted corner of the smoke-filled room.  There was music, of sorts,
and singing; women whose eyes told strange stories, and whose tongues
jumped nimbly over three or four languages, offered their companionship
to those who needed company with their drink.  But Billy Capper ignored
the music and closed his ears to the sirens; he knew who was his best
cup companion.

The thin green blood of the wormwood drip-dripped down on to the ice in
Capper's glass, coloring it with a rime like moss.  He watched it,
fascinated, and when he sipped the cold sicky-sweet liquor he was eager
as a child to see how the pictures the absinth drew on the ice had been
changed by the draft.  Sip--sip; a soothing numbness came to the
tortured nerves.  Sip--sip; the clouds of doubt and self-pity pressing
down on his brain began to shred away.  He saw things clearly now;
everything was sharp and clear as the point of an icicle.

He reviewed, with new zest, his recent experiences, from the night he
met Louisa in the Café Riche up to his interview with Doctor Koch.
Louisa--that girl with the face of a fine animal and a heart as cold as
carved amethyst; why had she been so willing to intercede for Billy
Capper with her superiors in the Wilhelmstrasse and procure him a
number and a mission to Alexandria?  For his information regarding the
Anglo-Belgian understanding?  But she paid for that; the deal was
fairly closed with three hundred marks.  Did Louisa go further and list
him in the Wilhelmstrasse out of the goodness of her heart, or for old
memory's sake?  Capper smiled wryly over his absinth.  There was no
goodness in Louisa's heart, and the strongest memory she had was how
nearly Billy Capper had dragged her down with him in the scandal of the
Lord Fisher letters.

How the thin green blood of the wormwood cleared the mind--made it leap
to logical reasoning!

Why had Louisa instructed him to leave Marseilles by the steamer
touching at Malta when a swifter boat scheduled to go to Alexandria
direct was leaving the French port a few hours later?  Was it that the
girl intended he should get no farther than Malta; that the English
there should----

Capper laughed like the philosopher who has just discovered the
absolute of life's futility.  The ticket--his ticket from the
Wilhelmstrasse which Louisa had procured for him; Louisa wanted that
for other purposes, and used him as the dummy to obtain it.  She wanted
it before he could arrive at Malta--and she got it before he left
Marseilles.  Even Louisa, the wise, had played without discounting the
Double 0 on the wheel--fate's percentage in every game; she could not
know the _Vendée_ would be warned from lingering at Malta because of
the exigency of war, and that Billy Capper would reach Alexandria,
after all.

The green logic in the glass carried Capper along with mathematical
exactness of deduction.  As he sipped, his mind became a thing detached
and, looking down from somewhere high above earth, reviewed the
blundering course of Billy Capper's body from Berlin to Alexandria--the
poor deluded body of a dupe.  With this certitude of logic came the
beginnings of resolve.  Vague at first and intangible, then, helped by
the absinth to focus, was this new determination.  Capper nursed it,
elaborated on it, took pleasure in forecasting its outcome, and viewing
himself in the new light of a humble hero.  It was near morning, and
the Tavern of Thermopylæ was well-nigh deserted when Capper paid his
score and blundered through the early-morning crowd of mixed races to
his hotel.  His legs were quite drunk, but his mind was coldly and
acutely sober.

"Very drunk, master," was the report Cæsar, the Numidian, delivered to
Doctor Koch at the Ramleh villa.  The doctor, believing Cæsar to be a
competent judge, chuckled in his beard.  Cæsar was called off from the
trail.

Across the street from Doctor Koch's home on Queen's Terrace was the
summer home of a major of fusileers, whose station was up the Nile.
But this summer it was not occupied.  The major had hurried his family
back to England at the first mutterings of the great war, and he
himself had to stick by his regiment up in the doubtful Sudan country.
Like Doctor Koch's place, the major's yard was surrounded by a high
wall, over which the fronds of big palms and flowered shrubs draped
themselves.  The nearest villa, aside from the Kochs' across the
street, was a hundred yards away.  At night an arc light, set about
thirty feet from Doctor Koch's gate, marked all the road thereabouts
with sharp blocks of light and shadow.  One lying close atop the wall
about the major's yard, screened by the palms and the heavy branches of
some night-blooming ghost flower, could command a perfect view of
Doctor Koch's gateway without being himself visible.

At least, so Billy Capper found it on the night following his visit to
the German physician's and his subsequent communion with himself at the
Tavern of Thermopylæ.  Almost with the falling of the dark, Capper had
stepped off the train at Ramleh station, ferried himself by boat down
the canal that passed behind the major's home, after careful
reconnoitering, discovered that the tangle of wildwood about the house
was not guarded by a watchman, and had so achieved his position of
vantage on top of the wall directly opposite the gateway of No. 32.  He
was stretched flat.  Through the spaces between the dry fingers of a
palm leaf he could command a good view of the gate and of the road on
either side.  Few pedestrians passed below him; an automobile or two
puffed by; but in the main, Queen's Terrace was deserted and Capper was
alone.  It was a tedious vigil.  Capper had no reliance except his
instinct of a spy familiar with spy's work to assure that he would be
rewarded for his pains.  Some sixth sense in him had prompted him to
come thither, sure in the promise that the night would not be misspent.
A clock somewhere off in the odorous dark struck the hour twice, and
Capper fidgeted.  The hard stone he was lying on cramped him.

The sound of footsteps on the flagged walk aroused momentary interest.
He looked out through his screen of green and saw a tall well-knit
figure of a man approach the opposite gate, stop and ring the bell.
Instantly Capper tingled with the hunting fever of his trade.  In the
strong light from the arc he could study minutely the face of the man
at the gate--smoothly shaven, slightly gaunt and with thin lips above a
strong chin.  It was a striking face--one easily remembered.  The gate
opened; beyond it Capper saw, for an instant, the white figure of the
Numidian he had bumped into at the alley's mouth.  The gate closed on
both.

Another weary hour for the ferret on the wall, then something happened
that was reward enough for cramped muscles and taut nerves.  An
automobile purred up to the gate; out of it hopped two men, while a
third, tilted over like one drunk, remained on the rear seat of the
tonneau.  One rang the bell.  The two before the gate fidgeted
anxiously for it to be opened.  Capper paid not so much heed to them as
to the half-reclining figure in the machine.  It was in strong light.
Capper saw, with a leap of his heart, that the man in the machine was
clothed in the khaki service uniform of the British army--an officer's
uniform he judged by the trimness of its fitting, though he could not
see the shoulder straps.  The unconscious man was bareheaded and one
side of his face was darkened by a broad trickle of blood from the
scalp.

When the gate opened, there were a few hurried words between the
Numidian and the two who had waited.  All three united in lifting an
inert figure from the car and carrying it quickly through the gate.
Consumed with the desire to follow them into the labyrinth of the
doctor's yard, yet not daring, Capper remained plastered to the wall.


Captain Woodhouse, sitting in the consultation room with the doctor,
heard the front door open and the scuffle of burdened feet in the hall.
Doctor Koch hopped nimbly to the folding doors and threw them back.
First, the Numidian's broad back, then, the bent shoulders of two other
men, both illy dressed, came into view.  Between them they carried the
form of a man in officer's khaki.  Woodhouse could not check a
fluttering of the muscles in his cheeks; this was a surprise to him;
the doctor had given no hint of it.

"Good--good!" clucked Koch, indicating that they should lay their
burden on the operating chair.  "Any trouble?"

"None in the least, Herr Doktor," the larger of the two white men
answered.  "At the corner of the warehouse near the docks, where it is
dark--he was going early to the _Princess Mary_, and----"

"Yes, a tap on the head--so?"  Koch broke in, casting a quick glance
toward where Captain Woodhouse had risen from his seat.  A shrewd
appraising glance it was, which was not lost on Woodhouse.  He stepped
forward to join the physician by the side of the figure on the
operating chair.

"Our man, Doctor?" he queried casually.

"Your name sponsor," Koch answered, with a satisfied chuckle; "the
original Captain Woodhouse of his majesty's signal service, formerly
stationed at Wady Halfa."

"Quite so," the other answered in English.  Doctor Koch clapped him on
the shoulder.

"Perfect, man!  You do the Englishman from the book.  It will fool them
all."

Woodhouse shrugged his shoulders in deprecation.  Koch cackled on, as
he began to lay out sponge and gauze bandages on the glass-topped table
by the operating chair:

"You see, I did not tell you of this because--well, that fellow
Capper's coming last night looked bad; even your explanation did not
altogether convince.  So I thought we'd have this little surprise for
you.  If you were an Englishman you'd show it in the face of this--you
couldn't help it.  Eh?"

"Possibly not," the captain vouchsafed.  "But what is your plan,
Doctor?  What are you going to do with this Captain Woodhouse to insure
his being out of the way while I am in Gibraltar.  I hope no
violence--unless necessary."

"Nothing more violent than a violent headache and some fever," Koch
answered.  He was busy fumbling in the unconscious man's pockets.  From
the breast pocket of the uniform jacket he withdrew a wallet, glanced
at its contents, and passed it to the captain.

"Your papers, Captain--the papers of transfer from Wady Halfa to
Gibraltar.  Money, too.  I suppose we'll have to take that, also, to
make appearances perfect--robbery following assault on the wharves."

Woodhouse pocketed the military papers in the wallet and laid it down,
the money untouched.  The two white aids of Doctor Koch, who were
standing by the folding doors, eyed the leather folder hungrily.  Koch,
meanwhile, had stripped off the jacket from the Englishman and was
rolling up the right sleeve of his shirt.  That done, he brought down
from the top of the glass instrument case a wooden rack containing
several test tubes, stoppled with cotton.  One glass tube he lifted out
of the rack and squinted at its clouded contents against the light.

"A very handy little thing--very handy."  Koch was talking to himself
as much as to Woodhouse.  "A sweet little product of the Niam Niam
country down in Belgian Kongo.  Natives think no more of it than they
would of a water fly's bite; but the white man is----"

"A virus of some kind?" the other guessed.

"Of my own isolation," Doctor Koch answered proudly.  He scraped the
skin on the victim's arm until the blood came, then dipped an ivory
spatula into the tube of murky gelatine and transferred what it brought
up to the raw place in the flesh.

"The action is very quick, and may be violent," he continued.  "Our
friend here won't recover consciousness for three days, and he will be
unable to stand on his feet for two weeks, at least--dizziness,
intermittent fever, clouded memory; he'll be pretty sick."

"But not too sick to communicate with others," Woodhouse suggested.
"Surely----"

"Maybe not too sick, but unable to communicate with others," Doctor
Koch interrupted, with a booming laugh.  "This time to-morrow night our
friend will be well out on the Libyan Desert, with some ungentle
Bedouins for company.  He's bound for Fezzan--and it will be a long way
home without money.  Who knows?  Maybe three months."

Very deftly Koch bound up the abrasion on the Englishman's arm with
gauze, explaining as he worked that the man's desert guardians would
have instructions to remove the bandages before he recovered his
faculties.  There would be nothing to tell the luckless prisoner more
than that he had been kidnaped, robbed and carried away by tribesmen--a
not uncommon occurrence in lower Egypt.  Koch completed his work by
directing his aids to strip off the rest of the unconscious man's
uniform and clothe him in a nondescript civilian garb that Cæsar
brought into the consultation room from the mysterious upper regions of
the house.

"Exit Captain Woodhouse of the signal service," the smiling doctor
exclaimed when the last button of the misfit jacket had been flipped
into its buttonhole, "and enter Captain Woodhouse of the
Wilhelmstrasse."  Turning, he bowed humorously to the lean-faced man
beside him.  He nodded his head at Cæsar; the latter dived into a
cupboard at the far end of the room and brought out a squat flask and
glasses, which he passed around.  When the liquor had been poured,
Doctor Koch lifted his glass and squinted through it with the air of a
gentle satyr.

"Gentlemen, we drink to what will happen soon on the Rock of
Gibraltar!"  All downed the toast gravely.  Then the master of the
house jerked his head toward the unconscious man on the operating
chair.  Cæsar and the two white men lifted the limp body and started
with it to the door, Doctor Koch preceding them to open doors.  The
muffled chug-chugging of the auto at the gate sounded almost at once.

The doctor and Number Nineteen Thirty-two remained together in the
consultation room for a few minutes, going over, in final review, the
plans that the latter was to put into execution at the great English
stronghold on the Rock.  The captain looked at his watch, found the
hour late, and rose to depart.  Doctor Koch accompanied him to the
gate, and stood with him for a minute under the strong light from the
near-by arc.

"You go direct to the _Princess Mary_?" he asked.

"Direct to the _Princess Mary_," the other answered.  "She is to sail
at five o'clock."

"Then God guard you, my friend, on--your great adventure."  They
clasped hands, and the gate closed behind the doctor.

A shadow skipped from the top of the wall about the major's house
across the road.  A shadow dogged the footsteps of the tall well-knit
man who strode down the deserted Queen's Terrace toward the tiled
station by the tracks.  A little more than an hour later, the same
shadow flitted up the gangplank of the _Princess Mary_ at her berth.
When the big P. & O. liner pulled out at dawn, she carried among her
saloon passengers one registered as "C. G. Woodhouse, Capt. Sig.
Service," and in her second cabin a "William Capper."



CHAPTER VI

A FUGITIVE

"No, madam does not know me; but she must see me.  Oh, I know she will
see me.  Tell her, please, it is a girl from New York all alone in
Paris who needs her help."

The butler looked again at the card the visitor had given him.  Quick
suspicion flashed into his tired eyes--the same suspicion that had all
Paris mad.

"Ger-son--Mademoiselle Ger-son.  That name, excuse me, if I say
it--that name ees----"

"It sounds German; yes.  Haven't I had that told me a thousand times
these last few days?"  The girl's shoulders drooped limply, and she
tried to smile, but somehow failed.  "But it's my name, and I'm an
American--been an American twenty-two years.  Please--please!"

"Madam the ambassador's wife; she ees overwhelm wiz woark."  The butler
gave the door an insinuating push.  Jane Gerson's patent-leather boot
stopped it.  She made a quick rummage in her bag, and when she withdrew
her hand, a bit of bank paper crinkled in it.  The butler pocketed the
note with perfect legerdemain, smiled a formal thanks and invited Jane
into the dark cool hallway of the embassy.  She dropped on a
skin-covered couch, utterly spent.  Hours she had passed moving, foot
by foot, in an interminable line, up to a little wicket in a steamship
office, only to be told, "Every boat's sold out."  Other grilling hours
she had passed similarly before the express office, to find, at last,
that her little paper booklet of checks was as worthless as a steamship
folder.  Food even lacked, because the money she offered was not
acceptable.  For a week she had lived in the seething caldron that was
Paris in war time, harried, buffeted, trampled and stampeded--a chip on
the froth of madness.  This day, the third of August, found Jane Gerson
summoning the last remnants of her flagging nerve to the supreme
endeavor.  Upon her visit to the embassy depended everything: her
safety, the future she was battling for.  But now, with the first
barrier passed, she found herself suddenly faint and weak.

"Madam the ambassador's wife will see you.  Come!"  The butler's voice
sounded from afar off, though Jane saw the gleaming buckles at his
knees very close.  The pounding of her heart almost choked her as she
rose to follow him.  Down a long hall and into a richly furnished
drawing-room, now strangely transformed by the presence of desks,
filing cabinets, and busy girl stenographers; the click of typewriters
and rustle of papers gave the air of an office at top pressure.  The
butler showed Jane to a couch near the portières and withdrew.  From
the tangle of desks at the opposite end of the room, a woman with a
kindly face crossed, with hand extended.  Jane rose, grasped the hand
and squeezed convulsively.

"You are----"

"Yes, my dear, I am the wife of the ambassador.  Be seated and tell me
all your troubles.  We are pretty busy here, but not too busy to
help--if we can."

Jane looked into the sympathetic eyes of the ambassador's wife, and
what she found there was like a draft of water to her parched soul.
The elder woman, smiling down into the white face, wherein the large
brown eyes burned unnaturally bright, saw a trembling of the lips
instantly conquered by a rallying will, and she patted the small hand
hearteningly.

"Dear lady," Jane began, almost as a little child, "I must get out of
Paris, and I've come to you to help me.  Every way is closed except
through you."

"So many hundreds like you, poor girl.  All want to get back to the
home country, and we are so helpless to aid every one."  The lady of
the embassy thought, as she cast a swift glance over the slender
shoulders and diminutive figure beneath them, that here, indeed, was a
babe in the woods.  The blatant, self-assured tourist demanding
assistance from her country's representative as a right she knew; also
the shifty, sloe-eyed demi-vierge who wanted no questions asked.  But
such a one as this little person----

"You see, I am a buyer for Hildebrand's store in New York."  Jane was
rushing breathlessly to the heart of her tragedy.  "This is my very
first trip as buyer, and--it will be my last unless I can get through
the lines and back to New York.  I have seventy of the very last gowns
from Poiret, from Paquin and Worth--you know what they will mean in the
old town back home--and I must--just simply must get them through.  You
understand!  With them, Hildebrand can crow over every other gown shop
in New York.  He can be supreme, and I will be--well, I will be made!"

The kindly eyes were still smiling, and the woman's heart, which is
unchanged even in the breast of an ambassador's wife, was leaping to
the magic lure of that simple word--gowns.

"But--but the banks refuse to give me a cent on my letter of credit.
The express office says my checks, which I brought along for
incidentals, can not be cashed.  The steamship companies will not sell
a berth in the steerage, even, out of Havre or Antwerp or
Southampton--everything gobbled up.  You can't get trunks on an
aeroplane, or I'd try that.  I just don't know where to turn, and so
I've come to you.  You must know some way out."

Jane unconsciously clasped her hands in supplication, and upon her
face, flushed now with the warmth of her pleading, was the dawning of
hope.  It was as if the girl were assured that once the ambassador's
wife heard her story, by some magic she could solve the difficulties.
The older woman read this trust, and was touched by it.

"Have you thought of catching a boat at Gibraltar?" she asked.  "They
are not so crowded; people haven't begun to rush out of Italy yet."

"But nobody will honor my letter of credit," Jane mourned.  "And,
besides, all the trains south of Paris are given up to the
mobilization.  Nobody can ride on them but soldiers."  The lady of the
embassy knit her brows for a few minutes while Jane anxiously scanned
her face.  Finally she spoke:

"The ambassador knows a gentleman--a large-hearted American gentleman
here in Paris--who has promised his willingness to help in deserving
cases by advancing money on letters of credit.  And with money there is
a way--just a possible way--of getting to Gibraltar.  Leave your letter
of credit with me, my dear; go to the police station in the district
where you live and get your pass through the lines, just as a
precaution against the possibility of your being able to leave
to-night.  Then come back here and see me at four o'clock.
Perhaps--just a chance----"

Hildebrand's buyer seized the hands of the embassy's lady ecstatically,
tumbled words of thanks crowding to her lips.  When she went out into
the street, the sun was shining as it had not shone for her for a
dreary terrible week.

At seven o'clock that night a big Roman-nosed automobile, long and low
and powerful as a torpedo on wheels, pulled up at the door of the
American embassy.  Two bulky osier baskets were strapped on the back of
its tonneau; in the rear seat were many rugs.  A young chap with a
sharp shrewd face--an American--sat behind the wheel.

The door of the embassy opened, and Jane Gerson, swathed in veils, and
with a gray duster buttoned tight about her, danced out; behind her
followed the ambassador, the lady of the embassy and a bevy of girls,
the volunteer aids of the overworked representative's staff.  Jane's
arms went about the ambassador's wife in an impulsive hug of gratitude
and good-by; the ambassador received a hearty handshake for his "God
speed you!"  A waving of hands and fluttering of handkerchiefs, and the
car leaped forward.  Jane Gerson leaned far over the back, and, through
cupped hands, she shouted: "I'll paint Hildebrand's sign on the Rock of
Gibraltar!"

Over bridges and through outlying faubourgs sped the car until the
Barrier was gained.  There crossed bayonets denying passage, an officer
with a pocket flash pawing over pass and passport, a curt dismissal,
and once more the motor purred its speed song, and the lights of the
road flashed by.  More picket lines, more sprouting of armed men from
the dark, and flashing of lights upon official signatures.  On the
heights appeared the hump-shouldered bastions of the great outer forts,
squatting like huge fighting beasts of the night, ready to spring upon
the invader.  Bugles sounded; the white arms of search-lights swung
back and forth across the arc of night in their ceaseless calisthenics;
a murmuring and stamping of many men and beasts was everywhere.

The ultimate picket line gained and passed, the car leaped forward with
the bound of some freed animal, its twin headlights feeling far ahead
the road to the south.  Behind lay Paris, the city of dread.
Ahead--far ahead, where the continent is spiked down with a rock,
Gibraltar.  Beyond that the safe haven from this madness of the
millions--America.

Jane Gerson stretched out her arms to the vision and laughed shrilly.



CHAPTER VII

THE HOTEL SPLENDIDE

Mr. Joseph Almer, proprietor of the Hotel Splendide, on Gibraltar's
Waterport Street, was alone in his office, busy over his books.  The
day was August fifth.  The night before the cable had flashed word to
General Sir George Crandall, Governor-general of the Rock, that England
had hurled herself into the great war.  But that was no concern of Mr.
Joseph Almer except as it affected the hotel business; admittedly it
did bring complications there.

A sleek well-fed Swiss he was; one whose neutrality was publicly as
impervious as the rocky barriers of his home land.  A bland eye and a
suave professional smile were the ever-present advertisements of
urbanity on Joseph Almer's chubby countenance.  He spoke with an accent
that might have got him into trouble with the English masters of the
Rock had they not known that certain cantons in Switzerland occupy an
unfortunate contiguity with Germany, and Almer, therefore, was hardly
to be blamed for an accident of birth.  From a window of his office, he
looked out on crooked Waterport Street, where all the world of the
Mediterranean shuffled by on shoes, slippers and bare feet.  Just
across his desk was the Hotel Splendide's reception room--a sad
retreat, wherein a superannuated parlor set of worn red plush tried to
give the lie to the reflection cast back at it by the dingy gold-framed
mirror over the battered fireplace.  Gaudy steamship posters and
lithographs of the Sphinx and kindred tourists' delights were the
walls' only decorations.  Not even the potted palm, which is the hotel
man's cure-all, was there to screen the interior of the
office-reception room from the curious eyes of the street, just beyond
swinging glass doors.  Joseph Almer had taken poetic license with the
word "splendide"; but in Gibraltar that is permissible; necessary, in
fact.  Little there lives up to its reputation save the Rock itself.

It was four in the afternoon.  The street outside steamed with heat,
and the odors that make Gibraltar a lasting memory were at their prime
of distillation.  The proprietor of the Splendide was nodding over his
books.  A light footfall on the boards beyond the desk roused him.  A
girl with two cigar boxes under her arm slipped, like a shadow, up to
the desk.  She was dressed in the bright colors of Spain,
claret-colored skirt under a broad Romany sash, and with thin white
waist, open at rounded throat.  A cheap tortoise-shell comb held her
coils of chestnut hair high on her head.  Louisa of the Wilhelmstrasse;
but not the same Louisa--the sophisticated Louisa of the Café Riche and
the Winter Garden.  A timid little cigar maker she was, here in
Gibraltar.

"Louisa!"  Almer's head bobbed up on a suddenly stiffened neck as he
whispered her name.  She set her boxes of cigars on the desk, opened
them, and as she made gestures to point the worthiness of her wares,
she spoke swiftly, and in a half whisper:

"All is as we hoped, Almer.  He comes on the _Princess Mary_--a
cablegram from Koch just got through to-day.  I wanted----"

"You mean----"  Almer thrust his head forward in his eagerness, and his
eyes were bright beads.

"Captain Woodhouse--our Captain Woodhouse!"  The girl's voice trembled
in exultation.  "And his number--his Wilhelmstrasse number--is--listen
carefully: Nineteen Thirty-two."

"Nineteen Thirty-two," Almer repeated, under his breath.  Then aloud:
"On the _Princess Mary_, you say?"

"Yes; she is already anchored in the straits.  The tenders are coming
ashore.  He will come here, for such were his directions in
Alexandria."  Louisa started to move toward the street door.

"But you," Almer stopped her; "the English are making a round-up of
suspects on the Rock.  They will ask questions--perhaps arrest----"

"Me?  No, I think not.  Just because I was away from Gibraltar for six
weeks and have returned so recently is not enough to rouse suspicion.
Haven't I been Josepha, the cigar girl, to every Tommy in the garrison
for nearly a year?  No--no, señor; you are wrong.  These are the purest
cigars made south of Madrid.  Indeed, señor."

[Illustration: "Haven't I been Josepha for nearly a year?"]

The girl had suddenly changed her tone to one of professional
wheedling, for she saw three entering the door.  Almer lifted his voice
angrily:

"Josepha, your mother is substituting with these cigars.  Take them
back and tell her if I catch her doing this again it means the cells
for her."

The cigar girl bowed her head in simulated fright, sped past the
incoming tourists, and lost herself in the shifting crowd on the
street.  Almer permitted himself to mutter angrily as he turned back to
his books.

"You see, mother?  See that hotel keeper lose his temper and
tongue-lash that poor girl?  Just what I tell you--these foreigners
don't know how to be polite to ladies."

Henry J. Sherman--"yes, sir, of Kewanee, Illynoy"--mopped his bald pink
dome and glared truculently at the insulting back of Joseph Almer.
Mrs. Sherman, the lady of direct impulses who had contrived to stare
Captain Woodhouse out of countenance in the Winter Garden not long
back, cast herself despondently on the decrepit lounge and appeared to
need little invitation to be precipitated into a crying spell.  Her
daughter Kitty, a winsome little slip, stood behind her, arms about the
mother's neck, and her hands stroking the maternal cheeks.

"There--there, mother; everything'll come out right," Kitty vaguely
assured.  Mrs. Sherman, determined to have no eye for the cloud's
silver lining, rocked back and forth on the sofa and gave voice to her
woe:

"Oh, we'll never see Kewanee again.  I know it!  I know it!  With
everybody pushing and shoving us away from the steamers--everybody
refusing to cash our checks, and all this fighting going on somewhere
up among the Belgians----"  The lady from Kewanee pulled out the
stopper of her grief, and the tears came copiously.  Mr. Sherman, who
had made an elaborate pretense of studying a steamer guide he found on
the table, looked up hurriedly and blew his nose loudly in sympathy.

"Cheer up, mother.  Even if this first trip of ours--this 'Grand
Tower,' as the guide-books call it--has been sorta tough, we had one
compensation anyway.  We saw the Palace of Peace at the Hague before
the war broke out.  Guess they're leasing it for a skating rink now,
though."

"How can you joke when we're in such a fix?  He-Henry, you ne-never do
take things seriously!"

"Why not joke, mother?  Only thing you can do over here you don't have
to pay for.  Cheer up!  There's the _Saxonia_ due here from Naples some
time soon.  Maybe we can horn a way up her gangplank.  Consul says----"

Mrs. Sherman looked up from her handkerchief with withering scorn.

"Tell me a way we can get aboard any ship without having the money to
pay our passage.  Tell me that, Henry Sherman!"

"Well, we've been broke before, mother," her spouse answered cheerily,
rocking himself on heels and toes.  "Remember when we were first
married and had that little house on Liberty Street--the newest house
in Kewanee it was; and we didn't have a hired girl, then, mother.  But
we come out all right, didn't we?" He patted his daughter's shoulder
and winked ponderously.  "Come on, girls and boys, we'll go look over
those Rock Chambers the English hollowed out.  We can't sit in our room
and mope all day."

The gentleman who knew Kewanee was making for the door when Almer, the
suave, came out from behind his desk and stopped him with a warning
hand.

"I am afraid the gentleman can not see the famous Rock Chambers," he
purred.  "This is war time--since yesterday, you know.  Tourists are
not allowed in the fortifications."

"Like to see who'd stop me!"  Henry J. Sherman drew himself up to his
full five feet seven and frowned at the Swiss.  Almer rubbed his hands.

"A soldier--with a gun, most probably, sir."

Mrs. Sherman rose and hurried to her husband's side, in alarm.

"Henry--Henry!  Don't you go and get arrested again!  Remember that
last time--the Frenchman at that Bordeaux town."  Sherman allowed
discretion to soften his valor.

"Well, anyway"--he turned again to the proprietor--"they'll let us see
that famous signal tower up on top of the Rock.  Mother, they say from
that tower up there, they can keep tabs on a ship sixty miles away.
Fellow down at the consulate was telling me just this morning that's
the king-pin of the whole works.  Harbor's full of mines and things;
electric switch in the signal tower.  Press a switch up there, and
everything in the harbor--Blam!"  He shot his hands above his head to
denote the cataclysm.  Almer smiled sardonically and drew the Illinois
citizen to one side.

"I would give you a piece of advice," he said in a low voice.  "It
is----"

"Say, proprietor; you don't charge for advice, do you?" Sherman
regarded him quizzically.

"It is this," Almer went on, unperturbed: "If I were you I would not
talk much about the fortifications of the Rock.  Even talk
is--ah--dangerous if too much indulged."

"Huh!  I guess you're right," said Sherman thoughtfully.  "You see--we
don't know much about diplomacy out where I come from.  Though that
ain't stopping any of the Democrats from going abroad in the Diplomatic
Service as fast as Bryan'll take 'em."

Interruption came startlingly.  A sergeant and three soldiers with guns
swung through the open doors from Waterport Street.  Gun butts struck
the floor with a heavy thud.  The sergeant stepped forward and saluted
Almer with a businesslike sweep of hand to visor.

"See here, landlord!" the sergeant spoke up briskly.  "Fritz, the
barber, lives here, does he not?"  Almer nodded.  "We want him.  Find
him in the barber shop, eh?"

The sergeant turned and gave directions to the guard.  They tramped
through a swinging door by the side of the desk while the Shermans,
parents and daughter alike, looked on, with round eyes.  In less than a
minute, the men in khaki returned, escorting a quaking man in white
jacket.  The barber, greatly flustered, protested in English strongly
reminiscent of his fatherland.

"Orders to take you, Fritz," the sergeant explained not unkindly.

"But I haf done nothing," the barber cried.  "For ten years I haf
shaved you.  You know I am a harmless old German."  The sergeant
shrugged.

"I fancy they think you are working for the Wilhelmstrasse, Fritz, and
they want to have you where they can keep their eyes on you.  Sorry,
you know."

The free-born instincts of Henry J. Sherman would not be downed longer.
He had witnessed the little tragedy of the German barber with growing
ire, and now he stepped up to the sergeant truculently.

"Seems to me you're not giving Fritz here a square deal, if you want to
know what I think," he blustered.  "Now, in my country----"  The
sergeant turned on him sharply.

"Who are you--and what are you doing in Gib?" he snapped.  A moan from
Mrs. Sherman, who threw herself in her daughter's arms.

[Illustration: "Who are you?" snapped the sergeant.]

"Kitty, your father's gone and got himself arrested again!"

"Who am I?" Sherman echoed with dignity.  "My name, young fellow, is
Henry J. Sherman, and I live in Kewanee, Illynoy.  I'm an American
citizen, and you can't----"

"Your passports--quick!" The sergeant held out his hand imperiously.

"Oh, that's all right, young fellow; I've got 'em, all right."
Kewanee's leading light began to fumble in the spacious breast pocket
of his long-tailed coat.  As he groped through a packet of papers and
letters, he kept up a running fire of comment and exposition:

"Had 'em this afternoon, all right.  Here; no, that's my letter of
credit.  It would buy Main Street at home, but I can't get a ham
sandwich on it here.  This is--no; that's my only son's little girl,
Emmaline, taken the day she was four years old.  Fancy little girl, eh?
Now, that's funny I can't--here's that list of geegaws I was to buy for
my partner in the Empire Mills, flour and buckwheat.  Guess he'll have
to whistle for 'em.  Now don't get impatient, young fellow.  This----
Land's sakes, mother, that letter you gave me to mail, in
Algy-kiras---- Ah, here you are, all proper and scientific enough as
passports go, I guess."

The sergeant whisked the heavily creased document from Sherman's hand,
scanned it hastily, and gave it back, without a word.  The outraged
American tucked up his chin and gave the sergeant glare for glare.

"If you ever come to Kewanee, young fellow," he snorted.  "I'll be
happy to show you our new jail."

"Close in!  March!" commanded the sergeant.  The guard surrounded the
hapless barber and wheeled through the door, their guns hedging his
white jacket about inexorably.  Sherman's hands spread his coat tails
wide apart, and he rocked back and forth on heels and toes, his eyes
smoldering.

"Come on, father"--Kitty had slipped her hand through her dad's arm,
and was imparting direct strategy in a low voice--"we'll take mother
down the street to look at the shops and make her forget our troubles.
They've got some wonderful Moroccan bazaars in town; Baedeker says so."

"Shops, did you say?"  Mrs. Sherman perked up at once, forgetting her
grief under the superior lure.

"Yes, mother.  Come on, let's go down and look 'em over."  Sherman's
good humor was quite restored.  He pinched Kitty's arm in compliment
for her guile.  "Maybe they'll let us look at their stuff without
charging anything; but we couldn't buy a postage stamp, remember."

They sailed out into the crowded street and lost themselves amid the
scourings of Africa and south Europe.  Almer was alone in the office.

The proprietor fidgeted.  He walked to the door and looked down the
street in the direction of the quays.  He pulled his watch from his
pocket and compared it with the blue face of the Dutch clock on the
wall.  His pudgy hands clasped and unclasped themselves behind his back
nervously.  An Arab hotel porter and runner at the docks came swinging
through the front door with a small steamer trunk on his shoulders, and
Almer started forward expectantly.  Behind the porter came a tall
well-knit man, dressed in quiet traveling suit--the Captain Woodhouse
who had sailed from Alexandria as a passenger aboard the _Princess
Mary_.

He paused for an instant as his eyes met those of the proprietor.
Almer bowed and hastened behind the desk.  Woodhouse stepped up to the
register and scanned it casually.

"A room, sir?" Almer held out a pen invitingly.

"For the night, yes," Woodhouse answered shortly, and he signed the
register.  Almer's eyes followed the strokes of the pen eagerly.

"Ah, from Egypt, Captain?  You were aboard the _Princess Mary_, then?"

"From Alexandria, yes.  Show me my room, please.  Beastly tired."

The Arab porter darted forward, and Woodhouse was turning to follow him
when he nearly collided with a man just entering the street door.  It
was Mr. Billy Capper.

Both recoiled as their eyes met.  Just the faintest flicker of
surprise, instantly suppressed, tightened the muscles of the captain's
jaws.  He murmured a "Beg pardon" and started to pass.  Capper
deliberately set himself in the other's path and, with a wry smile,
held out his hand.

"Captain Woodhouse, I believe."  Capper put a tang of sarcasm,
corroding as acid, into the words.  He was still smiling.  The other
man drew back and eyed him coldly.

"I do not know you.  Some mistake," Woodhouse said.

Almer was moving around from behind the desk with the soft tread of a
cat, his eyes fixed on the hard-bitten face of Capper.

"Hah!  Don't recognize the second-cabin passengers aboard the _Princess
Mary_, eh?" Capper sneered.  "Little bit discriminating that way, eh?
Well, my name's Capper--Mr. William Capper.  Never heard the name--in
Alexandria; what?"

"You are drunk.  Stand aside!"  Woodhouse spoke quietly; his face was
very white and strained.  Almer launched himself suddenly between the
two and laid his hands roughly on Capper's thin shoulders.

"Out you go!" he choked in a thick guttural.  "I'll have no loafer
insulting guests in my house."

"Oh, you won't, won't you?  But supposing I want to take a room
here--pay you good English gold for it.  You'll sing a different tune,
then."

"Before I throw you out, kindly leave my place."  By a quick turn,
Almer had Capper facing the door; his grip was iron.  The smaller man
tried to walk to the door with dignity.  There he paused and looked
back over his shoulder.

"Remember, Captain Woodhouse," he called back.  "Remember the name
against the time we'll meet again.  Capper--Mr. William Capper."

Capper disappeared.  Almer came back to begin profuse apologies to his
guest.  Woodhouse was coolly lighting a cigarette.  Their eyes met.



CHAPTER VIII

CHAFF OF WAR

Dinner that evening in the faded dining-room of the Hotel Splendide was
in the way of being a doleful affair for the folk from Kewanee, aside
from Captain Woodhouse, the only persons at table there.  Woodhouse,
true to the continental tradition of exclusiveness, had isolated
himself against possible approach by sitting at the table farthest from
the Shermans; his back presented an uncompromising denial of
fraternity.  As for Mrs. Sherman, the afternoon's visit to the bazaars
had been anything but a solace, emphasizing, as it did, their grievous
poverty in the midst of a plenty contemptuous of a mere letter of
credit.  Henry J. was wallowing in the lowest depths of nostalgia; he
tortured himself with the reflection that this was lodge night in
Kewanee and he would not be sitting in his chair.  Miss Kitty
contemplated with melancholy the distress of her parents.

A tall slender youth with tired eyes and affecting the blasé slouch of
the boulevards appeared in the door and cast about for a choice of
tables.  Him Mr. Sherman impaled with a glance of disapproval which
suddenly changed to wondering recognition.  He dropped his fork and
jumped to his feet.

"Bless me, mother, if it isn't Willy Kimball from old Kewanee!"
Sherman waved his napkin at the young man, summoning him in the name of
Kewanee to come and meet the home folks.  The tired eyes lighted
perceptibly, and a lukewarm smile played about Mr. Kimball's effeminate
mouth as he stepped up to the table.

"Why, Mrs. Sherman--and Kitty!  And you, Mr. Sherman--charmed!"  He
accepted the proffered seat by the side of Kitty, receiving their
hearty hails with languid politeness.  With the sureness of English
restraint, Mr. Willy Kimball refused to become excited.  He was of the
type of exotic Americans who try to forget grandpa's corn-fed hogs and
grandma's hand-churned butter.  His speech was of Rotten Row and his
clothes Piccadilly.

"Terrible business, this!"  The youth fluttered his hands feebly.  "All
this harrying about and peeping at passports by every silly officer one
meets.  I'm afraid I'll have to go over to America until it's all
over--on my way now, in fact."

"Afraid!"  Sherman sniffed loudly, and appraised Mr. Kimball's
tailoring with a disapproving eye.  "Well, Willy, it would be too bad
if you had to go back to Kewanee after your many years in Paris,
France; now, wouldn't it?"

Kimball turned to the women for sympathy.  "Reserved a compartment to
come down from Paris.  Beastly treatment.  Held up at every city--other
people crowded in my apartment, though I'd paid to have it alone, of
course--soldier chap comes along and seizes my valet and makes him join
the colors and all that sort----"

"Huh!  Your father managed to worry along without a val-lay, and he was
respected in Kewanee."  This in disgust from Henry J.

Kitty flashed a reproving glance at her father and deftly turned the
expatriate into a recounting of his adventures.  Under her unaffected
lead the youth, who shuddered inwardly at the appellation of "Willy,"
thawed considerably, and soon there was an animated swapping of
reminiscences of the Great Terror--hours on end before the banks and
express offices, dodging of police impositions, scrambling for steamer
accommodations--all that went to compose the refugee Americans' great
epic of August, 1914.

Sherman took pride in his superior adventures: "Five times arrested
between Berlin and Gibraltar, and what I said to that Dutchman on the
Swiss frontier was enough to make his hair curl."

"Tell you what, Willy: you come on back to Kewanee with us, and mother
and you'll lecture before the Thursday Afternoon Ladies' Literary
Club," Sherman boomed, with a hearty blow of the hand between Willy's
shoulder blades.  "I'll have Ed Porter announce it in advance in the
_Daily Enterprise_, and we'll have the whole town there to listen.
'Ezra Kimball's Boy Tells Thrilling Tale of War's Alarms.'  That's the
way the head-lines'll read in the _Enterprise_ next week."

The expatriate shivered and tried to smile.

"We'll let mother do the lecturing," Kitty came to his rescue.  "'How
to Live in Europe on a Letter of Discredit.'  That will have all the
gossips of Kewanee buzzing, mother."

The meal drew to a close happily in contrast to its beginning.  Mrs.
Sherman and her daughter rose to pass out into the reception room.
Sherman and Kimball lingered.

"Ah-h, Willy----"

"Mr. Sherman----"

Both began in unison, each somewhat furtive and shamefaced.

"Have you any money?"  The queries were voiced as one.  For an instant
confusion; then the older man looked up into the younger's face--a bit
flushed it was--and guffawed.

"Not a postage stamp, Willy!  I guess we're both beggars, and if mother
and Kitty didn't have five trunks between them this Swiss holdup man
who says he's proprietor of this way-station hotel wouldn't trust us
for a fried egg."

"Same here," admitted Kimball.  "I'm badly bent."

"They can't keep us down--us Americans!" Sherman cheered, taking the
youth's arm and piloting him out into the reception room.  "We'll find
a way out if we have to cable for a warship to come and get us."

Just as Sherman and Kimball emerged from the dining-room, there was a
diversion out beyond the glass doors on Waterport Street.  A small cart
drew up; from its seat jumped a young woman in a duster and with a
heavy automobile veil swathed under her chin.  To the Arab porter who
had bounded out to the street she gave directions for the removal from
the cart of her baggage, two heavy suit-cases and two ponderous osier
baskets.  These latter she was particularly tender of, following them
into the hotel's reception room and directing where they should be put
before the desk.

The newcomer was Jane Gerson, Hildebrand's buyer, at the end of her
gasoline flight from Paris.  Cool, capable, self-reliant as on the
night she saw the bastions of the capital's outer forts fade under the
white spikes of the search-lights, Jane strode up the desk to face the
smiling Almer.

"Is this a fortress or a hotel?" she challenged.

"A hotel, lady, a hotel," Almer purred.  "A nice room--yes.  Will the
lady be with us long?"

"Heaven forbid!  The lady is going to be on the first ship leaving for
New York.  And if there are no ships, I'll look over the stock of coal
barges you have in your harbor."  She seized a pen and dashed her
signature on the register.  The Shermans had pricked up their ears at
the newcomer's first words.  Now Henry J. pressed forward, his face
glowing welcome.

"An American--a simon-pure citizen of the United States--I thought so.
Welcome to the little old Rock!"  He took both the girl's hands
impulsively and pumped them.  Mrs. Sherman, Kitty and Willy Kimball
crowded around, and the clatter of voices was instantaneous: "By auto
from Paris; goodness me!"  "Not a thing to eat for three days but rye
bread!"  "From Strassburg to Luneville in a farmer's wagon!"  Each in a
whirlwind of ejaculation tried to outdo the other's story of hardship
and privation.

The front doors opened again, and the sergeant and guard who had
earlier carried off Fritz, the barber, entered.  Again gun butts
thumped ominously.  Jane looked over her shoulder at the khaki-coated
men, and confided in the Shermans:

"I think that man's been following me ever since I landed from the
ferry."

"I have," answered the sergeant, stepping briskly forward and saluting.
"You are a stranger on the Rock.  You come here from----"

"From Paris, by motor, to the town across the bay; then over here on
the ferry," the girl answered promptly.  "What about it?"

"Your name?"

"Jane Gerson.  Yes, yes, it sounds German, I know.  But that's not my
fault.  I'm an American--a red-hot American, too, for the last two
weeks."

The sergeant's face was wooden.

"Where are you going?"

"To New York, on the _Saxonia_, just as soon as I can.  And the British
army can't stop me."

"Indeed!"  The sergeant permitted himself a fleeting smile.  "From
Paris by motor, eh?  Your passports, please."

"I haven't any," Jane retorted, with a shade of defiance.  "They were
taken from me in Spain, just over the French border, and were not
returned."

The sergeant raised his eyebrows in surprise not unmixed with irony.
He pointed to the two big osier baskets, demanding to know what they
contained.

"Gowns--the last gowns made in Paris before the crash.  Fashion's last
gasp.  I am a buyer of gowns for Hildebrand's store in New York."

Ecstatic gurgles of pleasure from Mrs. Sherman and her daughter greeted
this announcement.  They pressed about the baskets and regarded them
lovingly.

The sergeant pushed them away and tried to throw back the covers.

"Open your baggage--all of it!" he commanded snappishly.

Jane, explaining over her shoulder to the women, stooped to fumble with
the hasps.

"Seventy of the darlingest gowns--the very last Paul Poiret and Paquin
and Worth made before they closed shop and marched away with their
regiments.  You shall see every one of them."

"Hurry, please, my time's limited!" the sergeant barked.

"I should think it would be--you're so charming," Jane flung back over
her shoulder, and she raised the tops of the baskets.  The other women
pushed forward with subdued coos.

The sergeant plunged his hand under a mass of colored fluffiness,
groped for a minute, and brought forth a long roll of heavy paper.
With a fierce mien, he began to unroll the bundle.

"And these?"

"Plans," Hildebrand's buyer answered.

"Plans of what?" The sergeant glared.

"Of gowns, silly!  Here--you're looking at that one upside down!  This
way!  Now isn't that a perfect dear of an afternoon gown?  Poiret
didn't have time to finish it, poor man!  See that lovely basque
effect?  Everything's _moyen age_ this season, you know."

Jane, with a shrewd sidelong glance at the flustered sergeant, rattled
on, bringing gown after gown from the baskets and displaying them to
the chorus of smothered screams of delight from the feminine part of
her audience.  One she draped coquettishly from her shoulders and did
an exaggerated step before the smoky mirror over the mantelpiece to
note the effect.

"Isn't it too bad this soldier person isn't married, so he could
appreciate these beauties?"  She flicked a mischievous eye his way.
"Of course he can't be married, or he'd recognize the plan of a gown.
Clean hands, there, Mister Sergeant, if you're going to touch any of
these dreams!  Here, let me!  Now look at that _musquetaire_
sleeve--the effect of the war--military, you know."

The sergeant was thoroughly angry by this time, and he forced the
situation suddenly near tragedy.  Under his fingers a delicate girdle
crackled suspiciously.

"Here--your knife!  Rip this open; there are papers of some sort hidden
here."  He started to pass the gown to one of his soldiers.  Jane
choked back a scream.

"No, no!  That's crinoline, stupid!  No papers----"  She stretched
forth her arms appealingly.  The sergeant humped his shoulders and put
out his hand to take the opened clasp-knife.

A plump doll-faced woman, who possessed an afterglow of prettiness and
a bustling nervous manner, flounced through the doors at this juncture
and burst suddenly into the midst of the group caught in the imminence
of disaster.

"What's this--what's this?"  She caught sight of the filmy creation
draped from the sergeant's arm.  "Oh, the beauty!"  This in a whisper
of admiration.

"The last one made by Worth," Jane was quick to explain, noting the
sergeant's confusion in the presence of the stranger, "and this officer
is going to rip it open in a search for concealed papers.  He takes me
for a spy."

Surprised blue eyes were turned from Jane to the sergeant.  The latter
shamefacedly tried to slip the open knife into his blouse, mumbling an
excuse.  The blue eyes bored him through.

"I call that very stupid, Sergeant," reproved the angel of rescue.
Then to Jane----

"Where are you taking all these wonderful gowns?"

"To New York.  I'm buyer for Hildebrand's, and----"

"But, Lady Crandall, this young woman has no passports--nothing," the
sergeant interposed.  "My duty----"

"Bother your duty!  Don't you know a Worth gown when you see it?  Now
go away!  I'll be responsible for this young woman from now on.  Tell
your commanding officer Lady Crandall has taken your duty out of your
hands."  She finished with a quiet assurance and turned to gloat once
more over the gowns.  The sergeant led his command away with evident
relief.

Lady Crandall turned to include all the refugees in a general
introduction of herself.

"I am Lady Crandall, the wife of the governor general of Gibraltar,"
she said, with a warming smile.  "I just came down to see what I could
do for you poor stranded Americans.  In these times----"

"An American yourself, I'll gamble on it!"  Sherman pushed his way
between the littered baskets and seized Lady Crandall's hands.  "Knew
it by the cut of your jib--and--your way of doing things.  I'm Henry J.
Sherman, from Kewanee, Illynoy--my wife and daughter Kitty."

"And I'm from Iowa--the red hills of ole Ioway," the governor's wife
chanted, with an orator's flourish of the hands.  "Welcome to the Rock,
home folks!"

Hands all around and an impromptu old-home week right then and there.
Lady Crandall's attention could not be long away from the gowns,
however.  She turned back to them eagerly.  With Jane Gerson as her
aid, she passed them in rapturous review, Mrs. Sherman and Kitty
playing an enthusiastic chorus.

A pursy little man with an air of supreme importance--Henry Reynolds he
was, United States Consul at Gibraltar--catapulted in from the street
while the gown chatter was at its noisiest.  He threw his hands above
his head in a mock attitude of submissiveness before a highwayman.

"'S all fixed, ladies and gentlemen," he cried, with a showman's
eloquence.  "Here's Lady Crandall come to tell you about it, and she's
so busy riding her hobby--gowns and millinery and such--she has
forgotten.  I'll bet dollars to doughnuts."

"Credit to whom credit is due, Mister Consul," she rallied.  "I'm not
stealing anybody's official thunder."  The consul wagged a forefinger
at her reprovingly.  With impatience, the refugees waited to hear the
news.

"Well, it's this way," Reynolds began.  "I've got so tired having all
you people sitting on my door-step I just had to make arrangements to
ship you on the _Saxonia_ in self-defense.  _Saxonia's_ due here from
Naples Thursday--day after to-morrow; sails for New York at dawn Friday
morning.  Lady Crandall, here--and a better American never came out of
the Middle West--has agreed to go bond for your passage money; all your
letters of credit and checks will be cashed by treasury agents before
you leave the dock at New York, and you can settle with the steamship
people right there.

"No, no; don't thank me!  There's the person responsible for your
getting home."  The consul waved toward the governor's lady, who
blushed rosily under the tumultuous blessings showered on her.
Reynolds ducked out the door to save his face.  The Shermans made their
good nights, and with Kimball, started toward the stairs.

"Thursday night, before you sail," Lady Crandall called to them, "you
all have an engagement--a regular American dinner with me at the
Government House.  Remember!"

"If you have hash--plain hash--and don't call it a rag-owt, we'll eat
you out of house and home," Sherman shouted as addendum to the others'
thanks.

"And you, my dear"--Lady Crandall beamed upon Jane--"you're coming
right home with me to wait for the _Saxonia's_ sailing.  Oh, no, don't
be too ready with your thanks.  This is pure selfishness on my part.  I
want you to help plan my fall clothes.  There, the secret's out.  But
with all those beautiful gowns, surely Hildebrand will not object if
you leave the pattern of one of them in an out-of-the-way little place
like this.  Come on, now, I'll not take no for an answer.  We'll pack
up all these beauties and have you off in no time."

[Illustration: Lady Crandall beamed upon Jane.]

Jane's thanks were ignored by the capable packer who smoothed and
straightened the confections of silk and satin in the osier hampers.
Lady Crandall summoned the porter to lift the precious freight to the
back of her dogcart, waiting outside.  Almer, perturbed at the
kidnaping of his guest, came from behind the desk.

"You will go to your room now?" he queried anxiously.

"Not going to take it," Jane answered.  "Have an invitation from Lady
Crandall to visit the State House, or whatever you call it."

"But, pardon me.  The room--it was rented, and I fear one night's
lodging is due.  Twenty shillings."

Jane elevated her eyebrows, but handed over a bill.

"Ah, no, lady.  French paper--it is worthless to me.  Only English
gold, if the lady pleases."  Almer's smile was leonine.

"But it's all I've got; just came from France, and----"

"Then, though it gives me the greatest sorrow, I must hold your luggage
until you have the money changed.  Excuse----"

Captain Woodhouse, who had dallied long over his dinner for lack of
something else to do, came out of the dining-room just then, saw a
woman in difficulties with the landlord, and instinctively stepped
forward to offer his services.

"Beg pardon, but can I be of any help?"

Jane turned.  The captain's heart gave a great leap and then went cold.
Frank pleasure followed the first surprise in the girl's eyes.

"Why, Captain Woodhouse--how jolly!--To see you again after----"

She put out her hand with a free gesture of comradeship.

Captain Woodhouse did not see the girl's hand.  He was looking into her
eyes coldly, aloofly.

"I beg your pardon, but aren't you mistaken?"

"Mistaken?"  The girl was staring at him, mystified.

"I'm afraid I have not had the pleasure of meeting you," he continued
evenly.  "But if I can be of service--now----"

She shrugged her shoulders and turned away from him.

"A small matter.  I owe this man twenty shillings, and he will not
accept French paper.  It's all I have."

Woodhouse took the note from her.

"I'll take it gladly--perfectly good."  He took some money from his
pocket and looked at it.  Then, to Almer: "I say, can you split a
crown?"

"Change for you in a minute, sir--the tobacco shop down the street."
Almer pocketed the gold piece and dodged out of the door.

Jane turned and found the deep-set gray eyes of Captain Woodhouse fixed
upon her.  They craved pardon--toleration of the incident just passed.



CHAPTER IX

ROOM D

Woodhouse hurried to Jane Gerson's side and began to speak swiftly and
earnestly:

"You are from the States?"

A shrug was her answer.  The girl's face was averted, and in the
defiant set of her shoulders Woodhouse found little promise of pardon
for the incident of the minute before.  He persisted:

"This war means nothing to you--one side or the other?"

"I have equal pity for them both," she answered in a low voice.

"We are living in dangerous times," he continued earnestly.  "I tell
you frankly, were the fact that you and I had met before to become
known here on the Rock the consequences would be
most--inconvenient--for me."  Jane turned and looked searchingly into
his face.  Something in the tone rather than the words roused her quick
sympathy.  Woodhouse kept on:

"I am sorry I had to deny that former meeting just now--that meeting
which has been with me in such vivid memory.  I regret that were you to
allude to it again I would have to deny it still more emphatically."

"I'm sure I shan't mention it again," the girl broke in shortly.

"Perhaps since it means so little to you--your silence--perhaps you
will do me that favor, Miss Gerson."

"Certainly."  Woodhouse could see that anger still tinged her speech.

"May I go further--and ask you to--promise?"  A shadow of annoyance
creased her brow, but she nodded.

"That is very good of you," he thanked her.  "Shall you be long on the
Rock?"

"No longer than I have to.  I'm sailing on the first boat for the
States," she answered.

"Then I am in luck--to-night."  Woodhouse tried to speak easily, though
Jane Gerson's attitude was distant.  "Meeting you again--that's luck."

"To judge by what you have just said it must be instead a great
misfortune," she retorted, with a slow smile.

"That is not fair.  You know what I mean.  Don't imagine I've really
forgotten our first meeting under happier conditions than these.  I
know I'm not clever--I can't make it sound as I would--but I've thought
a great deal of you, Miss Gerson--wondering how you were making it in
this great war.  Perhaps----"

Almer returned at this juncture with the change, which he handed to
Woodhouse.  He was followed in by Lady Crandall, who assured Jane her
hampers were securely strapped to the dog-cart.  Jane attempted an
introduction.

"This gentleman has just done me a service, Lady Crandall.  May I
present----"

"So sorry.  You don't know my name.  My clumsiness.  Captain
Woodhouse."  The man bridged the dangerous gap hurriedly.  Lady
Crandall acknowledged the introduction with a gracious smile.

"Your husband is Sir George----" he began.

"Yes, Sir George Crandall, Governor-general of the Rock.  And you----"

"Quite a recent comer.  Transferred from the Nile country here.  Report
to-morrow."

"All of the new officers have to report to the governor's wife as
well," Lady Crandall rallied, with a glance at Jane.  "You must come
and see me--and Miss Gerson, who will be with me until her boat sails."

Woodhouse caught his breath.  Jane Gerson, who knew him, at the
governor's home!  But he mastered himself in a second and bowed his
thanks.  Lady Crandall was moving toward the door.  Her ward turned and
held out a hand to Woodhouse.

"So good of you to have straightened out my finances," she said, with a
smile in which the man hoped he read full forgiveness for his denial of
a few minutes before.  "If you're ever in America I hope----"  He
looked up quickly.  "I hope somebody will be as nice to you.  Good
night."

Woodhouse and Almer were alone in the mongrel reception room.  The hour
was late.  Almer began sliding folding wooden shutters across the back
of the street windows.  Woodhouse lingered over the excuse of a final
cigarette, knowing the moment for his rapprochement with his fellow
Wilhelmstrasse spy was at hand.  He was more distraught than he cared
to admit even to himself.  The day's developments had been startling.
First the stunning encounter with Capper there on the very Rock that
was to be the scene of his delicate operations--Capper, whom he had
thought sunk in the oblivion of some Alexandrian wine shop, but who had
followed him on the _Princess Mary_.  The fellow had deliberately cast
himself into his notice, Woodhouse reflected; there had been menace and
insolent hint of a power to harm in his sneering objurgation that
Woodhouse should remember his name against a second meeting.
"Capper--never heard the name in Alexandria, eh?"  What could he mean
by that if not that somehow the little ferret had learned of his visit
to the home of Doctor Koch?  And that meant--why, Capper in Gibraltar
was as dangerous as a coiled cobra!

Then the unexpected meeting with Jane Gerson, the little American he
had mourned as lost in the fury of the war.  Ah, that was a joy not
unmixed with regrets!  What did she think of him?  First, he had been
forced coldly to deny the acquaintance that had meant much to him in
moments of recollection; then, he had attempted a lame explanation,
which explained nothing and must have left her more mystified than
before.  In fact, he had frankly thrown himself on the mercy of a girl
on whom he had not the shadow of claim beyond the poor equity of a
chance friendship--an incident she might consider as merely one of a
day's travel as far as he could know.  He had stood before her caught
in a deceit, for on the occasion of that never-to-be-forgotten ride
from Calais to Paris he had represented himself as hurrying back to
Egypt, and here she found him still out of uniform and in a hotel in
Gibraltar.

Beyond all this, Jane Gerson was going to the governor's house as a
guest.  She, whom he had forced, ever so cavalierly, into a promise to
keep secret her half knowledge of the double game he was playing, was
going to be on the intimate ground of association with the one man in
Gibraltar who by a crook of his finger could end suspicion by a firing
squad.  This breezy little baggage from New York carried his life
balanced on the rosy tip of her tongue.  She could be careless or she
could be indifferent; in either case it would be bandaged eyes and the
click of shells going home for him.

It was Almer who interrupted Woodhouse's troubled train of thought.

"Captain Woodhouse will report for signal duty on the Rock to-morrow, I
suppose?" he insinuated, coming down to where Woodhouse was standing
before the fireplace.  He made a show of tidying up the scattered
magazines and folders on the table.

"Report for signal duty?" the other echoed coldly.  "How did you know I
was to report for signal duty here?"

"In the press a few weeks ago," the hotel keeper hastily explained.
"Your transfer from the Nile country was announced.  We poor people
here in Gibraltar, we have so little to think about, even such small
details of news----"

"Ah, yes.  Quite so."  Woodhouse tapped back a yawn.

"Your journey here from your station on the Nile--it was without
incident?"  Almer eyed his guest closely.  The latter permitted his
eyes to rest on Almer's for a minute before replying.

"Quite."  Woodhouse threw his cigarette in the fireplace and started
for the stairs.

"Ah, most unusual--such a long journey without incident of any kind in
this time of universal war, with all Europe gone mad."  Almer was
twiddling the combination of a small safe set in the wall by the
fireplace, and his chatter seemed only incidental to the absorbing work
he had at hand.  "How will the madness end, Captain Woodhouse?  What
will be the boundary lines of Europe's nations in--say, 1932?"

Almer rose as he said this and turned to look squarely into the other's
face.  Woodhouse met his gaze steadily and without betraying the
slightest emotion.

"In 1932--I wonder," he mused, and into his speech unconsciously
appeared that throaty intonation of the Teutonic tongue.

"Don't go yet, Captain Woodhouse.  Before you retire I want you to
sample some of this brandy."  He brought out of the safe a short squat
bottle and glasses.  "See, I keep it in the safe, so precious it is.
Drink with me, Captain, to the monarch you have come to Gibraltar to
serve--to his majesty, King George the Fifth!"

Almer lifted his glass, but Woodhouse appeared wrapped in thought; his
hand did not go up.

"I see you do not drink to that toast, Captain."

"No--I was thinking--of 1932."

"So?"  Quick as a flash Almer caught him up.  "Then perhaps I had
better say, drink to the greatest monarch in Europe."

"To the greatest monarch in Europe!"  Woodhouse lifted his glass and
drained it.

Almer leaned suddenly across the table and spoke tensely: "You
have--something maybe--I would like to see.  Some little relic of
Alexandria, let us say."

Woodhouse swept a quick glance around, then reached for the pin in his
tie.

"A scarab; that's all."

In the space of a breath Almer had seen what lay in the back of the
stone beetle.  He gripped Woodhouse's hand fervently.

"Yes--yes, Nineteen Thirty-two!  They have told me of your coming.  A
cablegram from Koch only this afternoon said you would be on the
_Princess Mary_.  The other--the real Woodhouse--there will be no
slips; he will not----"

"He is as good as a dead man for many months," Woodhouse interrupted.
"Not a chance of a mistake."  He slipped easily into German.
"Everything depends on us now, Herr Almer."

"Perhaps the fate of our fatherland," Almer replied, cleaving to
English.  Woodhouse stepped suddenly away from the side of the table,
against which he had been leaning, and his right hand jerked back to a
concealed holster on his hip.  His eyes were hot with suspicion.

"You do not answer in German; why not?  Answer me in German or by----"

"_Ach_!  What need to become excited?"  Almer drew back hastily, and
his tongue speedily switched to German.  "German is dangerous here on
the Rock, Captain.  Only yesterday they shot a man against a wall
because he spoke German too well.  Do you wonder I try to forget our
native tongue?"

Woodhouse was mollified, and he smiled apologetically.  Almer forgave
him out of admiration for his discretion.

"No need to suspect me--Almer.  They will tell you in Berlin how for
twenty years I have served the Wilhelmstrasse.  But never before such
an opportunity--such an opportunity.  Stupendous!"  Woodhouse nodded
enthusiastic affirmation.  "But to business, Nineteen Thirty-two.  This
Captain Woodhouse some seven years ago was stationed here on the Rock
for just three months."

"So I know."

"You, as Woodhouse, will be expected to have some knowledge of the
signal tower, to which you will have access."  Almer climbed a chair on
the opposite side of the room, threw open the face of the old Dutch
clock there, and removed from its interior a thin roll of blue drafting
paper.  He put it in Woodhouse's hands.  "Here are a few plans of the
interior of the signal tower--the best I could get.  You will study
them to-night; but give me your word to burn them before you sleep."

"Very good."  Woodhouse slipped the roll into the breast pocket of his
coat.  Almer leaned forward in a gust of excitement, and, bringing his
mouth close to the other's ear, whispered hoarsely:

"England's Mediterranean fleet--twenty-two dreadnaughts, with cruisers
and destroyers--nearly a half of Britain's navy, will be here any day,
hurrying back to guard the Channel.  They will anchor in the straits.
Our big moment--it will be here then!  Listen!  Room D in the signal
tower--that is the room.  All the electric switches are there.  From
Room D every mine in the harbor can be exploded in ten seconds."

"Yes, but how to get to Room D?" Woodhouse queried.

"Simple.  Two doors to Room D, Captain; an outer door like any other;
an inner door of steel, protected by a combination lock like a vault's
door.  Two men on the Rock have that combination: Major Bishop, chief
signal officer, he has in it his head; the governor-general of the
Rock, he has it in his safe."

"We can get it out of the safe easier than from Major Bishop's head,"
Woodhouse put in, with a smile.

"Right.  We have a friend--in the governor's own house--a man with a
number from the Wilhelmstrasse like you and me.  At any moment in the
last two months he could have laid a hand on that combination.  But we
thought it better to wait until necessity came.  When the fleet arrives
you will have that combination; you will go with it to Room D, and
after that----"

"The deluge," the other finished.

"Yes--yes!  Our country master of the sea at last, and by the work of
the Wilhelmstrasse--despised spies who are shot like dogs when they're
caught, but die heroes' deaths."  The hotel proprietor checked himself
in the midst of his rhapsody, and came back to more practical details:

"But this afternoon--that man from Alexandria who called you by name.
That looked bad--very bad.  He knows something?"

Woodhouse, who had been expecting the question, and who preferred not
to share an anxiety he felt himself best fitted to cope with alone,
turned the other's question aside:

"Never met him before in my life to my best recollection.  My name he
picked up on the _Princess Mary_, of course; I won a pool one day, and
he may have heard some one mention it.  Simply a drunken brawler who
didn't know what he was doing."

Almer seemed satisfied, but raised another point:

"But the girl who has just left here; am I to have no explanation of
her?"

"What explanation do you want?" the captain demanded curtly.

"She recognized you.  Who is she?  What is she?"

"Devilish unfortunate," Woodhouse admitted.  "We met a few weeks ago on
a train, while I was on my way to Egypt, you know.  Chatted
together--oh, very informally.  She is a capable young woman from the
States--a 'buyer' she calls herself.  But I don't think we need fear
complications from that score; she's bent only on getting home."

"The situation is dangerous," urged Almer, wagging his head.  "She is
stopping at the governor's house; any reference she might make about
meeting you on a train on the Continent when you were supposed to be at
Wady Halfa on the Nile----"

"I have her promise she will not mention that meeting to anybody."

"_Ach_!  A woman's promise!"  Almer's eyes invoked Heaven to witness a
futile thing.  "She seemed rather glad to see you again; I----"

"Really?"  Woodhouse's eyes lighted.

The Splendide's proprietor was pacing the floor as fast as his fat legs
would let him.  "Something must be done," he muttered again and again.
He halted abruptly before Woodhouse, and launched a thick forefinger at
him like a torpedo.

"You must make love to that girl, Woodhouse, to keep her on our side,"
was his ultimatum.

Woodhouse regarded him quizzically, leaned forward, and whispered
significantly.

"I'm already doing it," he said.



CHAPTER X

A VISIT TO A LADY

Turning to consider the never-stale fortunes of one of fate's bean
bags----

Mr. Billy Capper, ejected from the Hotel Splendide, took little umbrage
at such treatment; it was not an uncommon experience, and, besides, a
quiet triumph that would not be dampened by trifles filled his soul.
Cheerfully he pushed through the motley crowd on Waterport Street down
to the lower levels of the city by the Line Wall, where the roosts of
sailors and warrens of quondam adventurers off all the seven seas made
far more congenial atmosphere than that of the Splendide's hollow
pretense.  He chose a hostelry more commensurate with his slender purse
than Almer's, though as a matter of fact the question of paying a hotel
bill was furthest from Billy Capper's thoughts; such formal
transactions he avoided whenever feasible.  The proprietor of the San
Roc, where Capper took a room, had such an evil eye that his new guest
made a mental note that perhaps he might have to leave his bag behind
when he decamped.  Capper abhorred violence--to his own person.

Alone over a glass of thin wine--the champagne days, alas! had been too
fleeting--Capper took stock of his situation and conned the
developments he hoped to be the instrument for starting.  To begin
with, finances were wretchedly bad, and that was a circumstance so near
the ordinary for Capper that he shuddered as he pulled a gold guinea
and a few silver bits from his pocket, and mechanically counted them
over.  Of the three hundred marks Louisa--pretty snake!--had given him
in the Café Riche and the expense money he had received from her the
following day to cover his expedition to Alexandria for the
Wilhelmstrasse naught but this paltry residue!  That second-cabin
ticket on the _Princess Mary_ had taken the last big bite from his
hoard, and here he was in this black-and-tan town with a quid and
little more between himself and the old starved-dog life.

But--and Capper narrowed his eyes and sagely wagged his head--there'd
be something fat coming.  When he got knee to knee with the
governor-general of the Rock, and told him what he, Billy Capper, knew
about the identity of Captain Woodhouse, newly transferred to the
signal service at Gibraltar, why, if there wasn't a cool fifty pounds
or a matter of that as honorarium from a generous government Billy
Capper had missed his guess; that's all.

"I say, Governor, of course this is very handsome of you, but I didn't
come to tell what I know for gold.  I'm a loyal Englishman, and I've
done what I have for the good of the old flag."

"Quite right, Mr. Capper; quite right.  But you will please accept this
little gift as an inadequate recognition of your loyalty.  Your name
shall be mentioned in my despatches home."

Capper rehearsed this hypothetical dialogue with relish.  He could even
catch the involuntary gasp of astonishment from the governor when that
responsible officer in his majesty's service heard the words Capper
would whisper to him; could see the commander of the Rock open a drawer
in his desk and take therefrom a thick white sheaf of bank-notes--count
them!  Then--ah, then--the first train for Paris and the delights of
Paris at war-time prices.

The little spy anticipated no difficulty in gaining audience with the
governor.  Before he had been fifteen minutes off the _Princess Mary_
he had heard the name of the present incumbent of Government House.
Crandall--Sir George Crandall; the same who had been in command of the
forts at Rangoon back in '99.  Oh, yes, Capper knew him, and he made no
doubt that, if properly reminded of a certain bit of work Billy Capper
had done back in the Burmese city, Sir George would recall him--and
with every reason for gratefulness.  To-morrow--yes, before ever Sir
George had had his morning's peg, Capper would present himself at
Government House and tell about that house on Queen's Terrace at
Ramleh; about the unconscious British officer who was carried there and
hurried thence by night, and the tall well-knit man in conference with
Doctor Koch who was now come to be a part of the garrison of the Rock
under the stolen name of Woodhouse.

Capper had his dinner, then strolled around the town to see the sights
and hear what he could hear.  Listening was a passion with him.

For the color and the exotic savor of Gibraltar on a hot August night
Capper had no eye.  The knife edge of a moon slicing the battlements of
the old Moorish Castle up on the heights; the minor tinkle of a guitar
sounding from a vine-curtained balcony; a Riffian muleteer's singsong
review of his fractious beast's degraded ancestry--not for these
incidentals did the practical mind under the battered Capper bowler
have room.  Rather the scraps of information and gossip passed from one
blue-coated artilleryman off duty, to another over a mug of ale, or the
confidence of a sloe-eyed dancer to the guitar player in a tavern; this
was meat for Capper.  Carefully he husbanded his gold piece, and
judiciously he spent his silver for drink.  He enjoyed himself in the
ascetic spirit of a monk in a fast, believing that the morrow would
bring champagne in place of the thin wine his pitiful silver could
command.

Then, of a sudden, he caught a glimpse of Louisa--Louisa of the
Wilhelmstrasse.  Capper's heart skipped, and an involuntary impulse
crooked his fingers into claws.

The girl was just coming out of a café--the only café aspiring to
Parisian smartness Gibraltar boasts.  Her head was bare.  Under an arm
she had tucked a stack of cigar boxes.  Had it not been that a steady
light from an overhead arc cut her features out of the soft shadow with
the fineness of a diamond-pointed tool, Capper would have sworn his
eyes were playing him tricks.  But Louisa's features were unmistakable,
whether in the Lucullian surroundings of a Berlin summer garden or here
on a street in Gibraltar.  Capper had instinctively crushed himself
against the nearest wall on seeing the girl; the crowd had come between
himself and her, and she had not seen him.

All the weasel instinct of the man came instantly to the fore that
second of recognition, and the glint in his eyes and baring of his
teeth were flashed from brute instinct--the instinct of the
night-prowling meat hunter.  All the vicious hate which the soul of
Billy Capper could distil flooded to his eyes and made them venomous.
Slinking, dodging, covering, he followed the girl with the cigar boxes.
She entered several dance-halls, offered her wares at the door of a
cheap hotel.  For more than an hour Capper shadowed her through the
twisting streets of the old Spanish town.  Finally she turned into a
narrow lane, climbed flagstone steps, set the width of the lane, to a
house under the scarp of a cliff, and let herself in at the street
door.  Capper, following to the door as quickly as he dared, found it
locked.

The little spy was choking with a lust to kill; his whole body trembled
under the pulse of a murderous passion.  He had found Louisa--the girl
who had sold him out--and for her private ends, Capper made no doubt of
that.  Some day he had hoped to run her down, and with his fingers
about her soft throat to tell her how dangerous it was to trick Billy
Capper.  But to have her flung across his path this way when anger was
still at white heat in him--this was luck!  He'd see this Louisa and
have a little powwow with her even if he had to break his way into the
house.

Capper felt the doorknob again; the door wouldn't yield.  He drew back
a bit and looked up at the front of the house.  Just a dingy black wall
with three unlighted windows set in it irregularly.  The roof projected
over the gabled attic like the visor of a cap.  Beyond the farther
corner of the house were ten feet of garden space, and then the bold
rock of the cliff springing upward.  A low wall bounded the garden;
over its top nodded the pale ghosts of moonflowers and oleanders.

Capper was over the wall in a bound, and crouching amid flower
clusters, listening for possible alarm.  None came, and he became
bolder.  Skirting a tiny arbor, he skulked to a position in the rear of
the house; there a broad patch of illumination stretched across the
garden, coming from two French windows on the lower floor.  They stood
half open; through the thin white stuff hanging behind them Capper
could see vaguely the figure of a girl seated before a dressing mirror
with her hands busy over two heavy ropes of hair.  Nothing to do but
step up on the little half balcony outside the windows, push through
into the room, and--have a little powwow with Louisa.

An unwonted boldness had a grip on the little spy.  Never a person to
force a face-to-face issue when the trick could be turned behind
somebody's back, he was, nevertheless, driven irresistibly by a furious
anger that took no heed of consequences.

With the light foot of a cat, Capper straddled the low rail of the
balcony, pushed back one of the partly opened windows, and stepped into
Louisa's room.  His eyes registered mechanically the details--a heavy
canopied bed, a massive highboy of some dark wood, chairs supporting
carelessly flung bits of wearing apparel.  But he noted especially that
just as he emerged from behind one of the loose curtains a white arm
remained poised over a brown head.

"Stop where you are, Billy Capper!"  The girl's low-spoken order was as
cold and tense as drawn wire.  No trace of shock or surprise was in her
voice.  She did not turn her head.  Capper was brought up short, as if
he felt a noose about his neck.

Slowly the figure seated before the dressing mirror turned to face him.
Tumbling hair framed the girl's face, partly veiling the yellow-brown
eyes, which seemed two spots of metal coming to incandescence under
heat.  Her hands, one still holding a comb, lay supinely in her lap.

"I admit this is a surprise, Capper," Louisa said, letting each word
fall sharply, but without emphasis.  "However, it is like you to
be--unconventional.  May I ask what you want this time--besides money,
of course?"

Capper wet his lips and smiled wryly.  He had jumped so swiftly to
impulse that he had not prepared himself beforehand against the moment
when he should be face to face with the girl from the Wilhelmstrasse.
Moreover, he had expected to be closer to her--very close
indeed--before the time for words should come.

"I--I saw you to-night and followed you--here," he began lamely.

"Flattering!" She laughed shortly.

"Oh, you needn't try to come it over me with words!"  Capper's teeth
showed in a nasty grin as his rage flared back from the first
suppression of surprise.  "I've come here to have a settlement for a
little affair between you and me."

"Blackmail?  Why, Billy Capper, how true to form you run!"  The
yellow-brown eyes were alight and burning now.  "Have you determined
the sum you want or are you in the open market?"

Capper grinned again, and shifted his weight, inadvertently advancing
one foot a little nearer the seated girl as he did so.

"Pretty quick with the tongue--as always," he sneered.  "But this time
it doesn't go, Louisa.  You pay differently this time--pay for selling
me out.  Understand!"  Again one foot shifted forward a few inches by
the accident of some slight body movement on the man's part.  Louisa
still sat before her dressing mirror, hands carelessly crossed on her
lap.

"Selling you out?" she repeated evenly.  "Oh!  So you finally did
discover that you were elected to be the goat?  Brilliant Capper!  How
long before you made up your mind you had a grievance?"

The girl's cool admission goaded the little man's fury to frenzy.  His
mind craved for action--for the leap and the tightening of fingers
around that taunting throat; but somehow his body, strangely detached
from the fiat of volition as if it were another's body, lagged to the
command.  Violence had never been its mission; muscles were slow to
accept this new conception of the mind.  But the man's feet followed
their crafty intelligence; by fractions of inches they moved forward
stealthily.

"You wouldn't be here now," Louisa coldly went on, "if you weren't
fortune's bright-eyed boy.  You were slated to be taken off the boat at
Malta and shot; the boat didn't stop at Malta through no fault of ours,
and so you arrived at Alexandria--and became a nuisance."  One of the
girl's hands lifted from her lap and lazily played along the edge of
the rosewood standard which supported the mirror on the dressing table.
It stopped at a curiously carved rosette in the rococo scroll-work.
Capper's suspicious eye noted the movement.  He sparred for time--the
time needed by those stealthy feet to shorten the distance between
themselves and the girl.

"Why," he hissed, "why did you give me a number with the Wilhelmstrasse
and send me to Alexandria if I was to be caught and shot at Malta?
That's what I'm here to find out."

"Excellent Capper!"  Her fingers were playing with the convolutions of
the carved rosette.  "Intelligent Capper!  He comes to a lady's room at
night to find the answer to a simple question.  He shall have it.  He
evidently does not know the method of the Wilhelmstrasse, which is to
choose two men for every task to be accomplished.  One--the 'target,'
we call him--goes first; our friends whose secrets we seek are allowed
to become suspicious of him--we even give them a hint to help them in
their suspicion.  They seize the 'target,' and in time of war he
becomes a real target for a firing squad, as you should have been,
Capper, at Malta.  Then when our friends believe they have nipped our
move in the bud follows the second man--who turns the trick."

Capper was still wrestling with that baffling stubbornness of the body.
Each word the girl uttered was like vitriol on his writhing soul.  His
mind willed murder--willed it with all the strength of hate; but still
the springs of his body were cramped--by what?  Not cowardice, for he
was beyond reckoning results.  Certainly not compassion or any saving
virtue of chivalry.  Why did his eyes constantly stray to that white
hand lifted to allow the fingers to play with the filigree of wood on
the mirror support?

"Then you engineered the stealing of my number--from the hollow under
the handle of my cane--some time between Paris and Alexandria?" he
challenged in a whisper, his face thrust forward between hunched
shoulders.

"No, indeed.  It was necessary for you to have--the evidence of your
profession when the English searched you at Malta.  But the loss of
your number is not news; Koch, in Alexandria, has reported, of course."

The girl saw Capper's foot steal forward again.  He was not six feet
from her now.  His wiry body settled itself ever so slightly for a
spring.  Louisa rose from her chair, one hand still resting on the
wooden rosette of the mirror standard.  She began to speak in a voice
drained of all emotion:

"You followed me here to-night, Billy Capper, imagining in your poor
little soul that you were going to do something desperate--something
really human and brutal.  You came in my window all primed for murder.
But your poor little soul all went to water the instant we faced each
other.  You couldn't nerve yourself to leap upon a woman even.  You
can't now."

She smiled on him--a woman's flaying smile of pity.  Capper writhed,
and his features twisted themselves in a paroxysm of hate.

"I have my finger on a bell button here, Capper.  If I press it men
will come in here and kill you without asking a question.  Now you'd
better go."

Capper's eyes jumped to focus on a round white nib under one of the
girl's fingers there on the mirror's standard.  The little ivory button
was alive--a sentient thing suddenly allied against him.  That
inanimate object rather than Louisa's words sent fingers of cold fear
to grip his heart.  A little ivory button waiting there to trap him!
He tried to cover his vanished resolution with bluster, sputtering out
in a tense whisper:

"You're a devil--a devil from hell, Louisa!  But I'll get you.  They
shoot women in war time!  Sir George Crandall--I know him--I did a
little service for him once in Rangoon.  He'll hear of you and your
Wilhelmstrasse tricks, and you'll have your pretty back against a wall
with guns at your heart before to-morrow night.  Remember--before
to-morrow night!"

Capper was backing toward the open window behind him.  The girl still
stood by the mirror, her hand lightly resting where the ivory nib was.
She laughed.

"Very well, Billy Capper.  It will be a firing party for two--you and
me together.  I'll make a frank confession--tell all the information
Billy Capper sold to me for three hundred marks one night in the Café
Riche--the story of the Anglo-Belgian defense arrangements.  The same
Billy Capper, I'll say, who sold the Lord Fisher letters to the
kaiser--a cable to Downing Street will confirm that identification
inside of two hours.  And then----"

"And your Captain Woodhouse--your cute little Wilhelmstrasse captain,"
Capper flung back from the window, pretending not to heed the girl's
potent threat; "I know all about him, and the governor'll know,
too--same time he hears about you!"

"Good night, Billy Capper," Louisa answered, with a piquant smile.
"And au revoir until we meet with our backs against that wall."

Capper's head dropped from view over the balcony edge; there was a
sound of running feet amid the close-ranked plants in the garden, then
silence.

The girl from the Wilhelmstrasse, alone in the house save for the bent
old housekeeper asleep in her attic, turned and laid her head--a bit
weakly--against the carved standard, where in a florid rosette showed
the ivory tip of the hinge for the cheval glass.



CHAPTER XI

A SPY IN THE SIGNAL TOWER

Government House, one of the Baedeker points of Gibraltar, stands amid
its gardens on a shelf of the Rock about mid-way between the Alameda
and the signal tower, perched on the very spine of the lion's back
above it.  Its windows look out on the blue bay and over to the red
roofs of Algeciras across the water on Spanish territory.  Tourists
gather to peek from a respectful distance at the mossy front and quaint
ecclesiastic gables of Government House, which has a distinction quite
apart from its use as the home of the governor-general.  Once, back in
the dim ages of Spain's glory, it was a monastery, one of the oldest in
the southern tip of the peninsula.  When the English came their
practical sense took no heed of the protesting ghosts of the monks, but
converted the monastery into a home for the military head of the
fortress--a little dreary, a shade more melancholy than the accustomed
manor hall at home, but adequate and livable.

Thither, on the morning after his arrival, Captain Woodhouse went to
report for duty to Major-general Sir George Crandall, Governor of the
Rock.  Captain Woodhouse was in uniform--neat service khaki and pith
helmet, which became him mightily.  He appeared to have been molded
into the short-skirted, olive-gray jacket; it set on his shoulders with
snug ease.  Perhaps, if anything, the uniform gave to his features a
shade more than their wonted sternness, to his body just the least
addition of an indefinable alertness, of nervous acuteness.  It was
nine o'clock, and Captain Woodhouse knew it was necessary for him to
pay his duty call on Sir George before the eleven o'clock assembly.

As the captain emerged from the straggling end of Waterport Street, and
strode through the flowered paths of the Alameda, he did not happen to
see a figure that dodged behind a chevaux-de-frise of Spanish bayonet
on his approach.  Billy Capper, who had been pacing the gardens for
more than an hour, fear battling with the predatory impulse that urged
him to Government House, watched Captain Woodhouse pass, and his eyes
narrowed into a queer twinkle of oblique humor.  So Captain Woodhouse
had begun to play the game--going to report to the governor, eh?  The
pale soul of Mr. Capper glowed with a faint flicker of admiration for
this cool bravery far beyond its own capacity to practise.  Capper
waited a safe time, then followed, chose a position outside Government
House from which he could see the main entrance, and waited.

A tall thin East Indian with a narrow ascetic face under his closely
wound white turban, and wearing a native livery of the same spotless
white, answered the captain's summons on the heavy knocker.  He
accepted the visitor's card, showed him into a dim hallway hung with
faded arras and coats of chain mail.  The Indian, Jaimihr Khan, gave
Captain Woodhouse a start when he returned to say the governor would
receive him in his office.  The man had a tread like a cat's,
absolutely noiseless; he moved through the half light of the hall like
a white wraith.  His English was spoken precisely and with a curious
mechanical intonation.

Jaimihr Khan threw back heavy double doors and announced, "Cap-tain
Wood-house."  He had the doors shut noiselessly almost before the
visitor was through them.

A tall heavy-set man with graying hair and mustache rose from a broad
desk at the right of a large room and advanced with hand outstretched
in cordial welcome.

"Captain Woodhouse, of the signal service.  Welcome to the Rock,
Captain.  Need you here.  Glad you've come."

Woodhouse studied the face of his superior in a swift glance as he
shook hands.  A broad full face it was, kindly, intelligent, perhaps
not so alert as to the set of eyes and mouth as it had been in younger
days when the stripes of service were still to be won.  General Sir
George Crandall gave the impression of a man content to rest on his
honors, though scrupulously attentive to the routine of his position.
He motioned the younger man to draw a chair up to the desk.

"In yesterday on the _Princess Mary_, I presume, Captain?"

"Yes, General.  Didn't report to you on arrival because I thought it
would be quite tea time and I didn't want to disturb----"

"Right!"  General Crandall tipped back in his swivel chair and
appraised his new officer with satisfaction.  "Everything quiet on the
upper Nile?  Germans not tinkering with the Mullah yet to start
insurrection or anything like that?"

"Right as a trivet, sir," Woodhouse answered promptly.  "Of course
we're anticipating some such move by the enemy--agents working in from
Erythrea--holy war of a sort, perhaps, but I think our people have
things well in hand."

"And at Wady Halfa, your former commander----"  The general hesitated.

"Major Bronson-Webb, sir," Woodhouse was quick to supply, but not
without a sharp glance at the older man.

"Yes--yes; Bronson-Webb--knew him in Rangoon in the late
nineties--mighty decent chap and a good executive.  He's standing the
sun, I warrant."

Captain Woodhouse accepted the cigarette from the general's extended
case.

"No complaint from him at least, General Crandall.  We all get pretty
well baked at Wady, I take it."

The governor laughed, and tapped a bell on his desk.  Jaimihr Khan was
instantly materialized between the double doors.

"My orderly, Jaimihr," General Crandall ordered, and the doors were
shut once more.  The general stretched a hand across the desk.

"Your papers, please, Captain.  I'll receipt your order of transfer and
you'll be a member of our garrison forthwith."

Captain Woodhouse brought a thin sheaf of folded papers from his breast
pocket and passed it to his superior.  He kept his eyes steadily on the
general's face as he scanned them.

"C. G. Woodhouse--Chief Signal Officer--Ninth Grenadiers--Wady
Halfa----"  General Crandall conned the transfer aloud, running his
eyes rapidly down the lines of the form.  "Right.  Now, Captain, when
my orderly comes----"

A subaltern entered and saluted.

"This is Captain Woodhouse."  General Crandall indicated Woodhouse, who
had risen.  "Kindly conduct him to Major Bishop, who will assign him to
quarters.  Captain Woodhouse, we--Lady Crandall and I--will expect you
at Government House soon to make your bow over the teacup.  One of Lady
Crandall's inflexible rules for new recruits, you know.  Good day, sir."

Woodhouse, out in the free air again, drew in a long breath and braced
back his shoulders.  He accompanied the subaltern over the trails on
the Rock to the quarters of Major Bishop, chief signal officer, under
whom he was to be junior in command.  But one regret marked his first
visit to Government House--he had not caught even a glimpse of the
little person calling herself Jane Gerson, buyer.

But he had missed by a narrow margin.  Piloted by Lady Crandall, Jane
had left the vaulted breakfast room for the larger and lighter library,
which Sir George had converted to the purpose of an office.  This room
was a sort of holy of holies with Lady Crandall, to be invaded if the
presiding genius could be caught napping or lulled to complaisance.
This morning she had the important necessity of unobstructed light--not
a general commodity about Government House--to urge in defense of
profanation.  For her guest carried under her arm a sheaf of plans--by
such sterling architects of women's fancies as Worth and Doeuillet, and
the imp of envy would not allow the governor's wife to have peace until
she had devoured every pattern.  She paused in mock horror at the
threshold of her husband's sanctum.

"But, George, dear, you should be out by this time, you know," Lady
Crandall expostulated.  "Miss Gerson and I have something--oh,
tremendously important to do here."  She made a sly gesture of
concealing the bundle of stiff drawing paper she carried.  General
Crandall, who had risen at the arrival of the two invaders, made a show
at capturing the plans his wife held behind her back.  Jane bubbled
laughter at the spectacle of so exalted a military lion at play.  The
general possessed himself of the roll, drew a curled scroll from it,
and gravely studied it.

"Miss Gerson," he said with deliberation, "this looks to me like a plan
of Battery B.  I am surprised that you should violate the hospitality
of Government House by doing spy work from its bedroom windows."

"Foolish!  You've got that upside down for one thing," Lady Crandall
chided.  "And besides it's only a chart of what the lady of Government
House hopes soon to wear if she can get the goods from Holbein's, on
Regent Street."

"You see, General Crandall, I'm attacking Government House at its
weakest point," Jane laughed.  "Been here less than twelve hours, and
already the most important member of the garrison has surrendered."

"The American sahib, Reynolds," chanted Jaimihr Khan from the double
doors, and almost at once the breezy consul burst into the room.  He
saluted all three with an expansive gesture of the hands.

"Morning, Governor--morning, Lady Crandall, and same to you, Miss
Gerson.  Dear, dear; this is going to be a bad day for me, and it's
just started."  The little man was wound up like a sidewalk top, and he
ran on without stopping:

"General Sherman might have got some real force into his remarks about
war if he'd had a job like mine.  Miss Gerson--news!  Heard from the
_Saxonia_.  Be in harbor some time to-morrow and leave at six sharp
following morning."  Jane clapped her hands.  "I've wired for
accommodations for all of you--just got the answer.  Rotten
accommodations, but--thank Heaven--I won't be able to hear what you say
about me when you're at sea."

"Anything will do," Jane broke in.  "I'm not particular.  I want to
sail--that's all."

The consul looked flustered.

"Um--that's what I came to see you about, General Crandall."  He jerked
his head around toward the governor with a birdlike pertness.  "What
are you going to do with this young lady, sir?"  Jane waited the answer
breathlessly.

"Why--um--really, as far as we're concerned," Sir George answered
slowly, "we'd be glad to have her stop here indefinitely.  Don't you
agree, Helen?"

"Of course; but----"

"It's this way," the consul interrupted Lady Crandall.  "I've arranged
to get Miss Gerson aboard, provided, of course, you approve."

"You haven't got a cable through regarding her?" the general asked.
"Her passports--lost--lot of red tape, of course."

"Not a line from Paris even," Reynolds answered.  "Miss Gerson says the
ambassador could vouch for her, and----"

"Indeed he could!"  Jane started impulsively toward the general.  "It
was his wife arranged my motor for me and advanced me money."

General Crandall looked down into her eager face indulgently.

"You really are very anxious to sail, Miss Gerson?"

"General Crandall, I'm not very good at these please-spare-my-lover
speeches," the girl began, her lips tremulous.  "But it means a lot to
me--to go; my job, my career.  I've fought my way this far, and here I
am--and there's the sea out there.  If I can't step aboard the
_Saxonia_ Friday morning it--it will break my heart."

Gibraltar's master honed his chin thoughtfully for a minute.

"Um--I'm sure I don't want to break anybody's heart--not at my age,
miss.  I see no good reason why I should not let you go if nothing
happens meanwhile to make me change my mind."  He beamed good humor on
her.

"Bless you, General," she cried.  "Hildebrand's will mention you in its
advertisements."

"Heaven forbid!" General Crandall cried in real perturbation.

Jane turned to Lady Crandall and took both her hands.

"Come to my room," she urged, with an air of mystery.  "You know that
Doeuillet evening gown--the one in blue?  It's yours, Lady Crandall.
I'd give another to the general if he'd wear it.  Now one fitting
and----"

Her voice was drowned by Lady Crandall's: "You dear!"

"Be at the dock at five A.M. Friday to see you and the others off, Miss
Gerson," Reynolds called after her.  "Must go now--morning crowd of
busted citizens waiting at the consulate to be fed.  Ta-ta!"  Reynolds
collided with Jaimihr Khan at the double doors.

"A young man who wishes to see you, General Sahib.  He will give no
name, but he says a promise you made to see him--by telephone an hour
ago."

"Show Mr. Reynolds out, Jaimihr!" the general ordered.  "Then you may
bring the young man in."

Mr. Billy Capper, who had, in truth, telephoned to Government House and
secured the privilege of an interview even before the arrival of
Woodhouse to report, and had paced the paths of the Alameda since,
blowing hot and cold on his resolutions, followed the soft-footed
Indian into the presence of General Crandall.  The little spy was near
a state of nervous breakdown.  Following the surprising and unexpected
collapse of his plan to do a murder, he had spent a wakeful and
brandy-punctuated night, his brain on the rack.  His desire to play
informer, heightened now a hundred-fold by the flaying tongue of
Louisa, was almost balanced by his fears of resultant consequences.
Cupidity, the old instinct for preying, drove him to impart to the
governor-general of Gibraltar information which, he hoped, would be
worth its weight in gold; Louisa's promise of a party _à deux_ before a
firing squad, which he knew in his heart she would be capable of
arranging in a desperate moment, halted him.  After screwing up his
courage to the point of telephoning for an appointment, Capper had
wallowed in fear.  He dared not stay away from Government House then
for fear of arousing suspicion; equally he dared not involve the girl
from the Wilhelmstrasse lest he find himself tangled in his own mesh.

At the desperate moment of his introduction to General Crandall, Capper
determined to play it safe and see how the chips fell.  His heart
quailed as he heard the doors shut behind him.

"Awfully good of you to see me," he babbled as he stood before the
desk, turning his hat brim through his fingers like a prayer wheel.

General Crandall bade him be seated.  "I haven't forgotten you did me a
service in Burma," he added.

"Oh, yes--of course," Capper managed to answer.  "But that was my job.
I got paid for that."

"You're not with the Brussels secret-service people any longer, then?"

The question hit Capper hard.  His fingers fluttered to his lips.

"No, General.  They--er--let me go.  Suppose you heard that--and a lot
of other things about me.  That I was a rotter--that I drank----"

"What I heard was not altogether complimentary," the other answered
judiciously.  "I trust it was untrue."

Capper's embarrassment increased.

"Well, to tell the truth, General Crandall--ah--I did go to pieces for
a time.  I've been playing a pretty short string for the last two
years.  But"--he broke off his whine in a sudden accession of
passion--"they can't keep me down much longer.  I'm going to show 'em!"

General Crandall looked his surprise.

"General, I'm an Englishman.  You know that.  I may be down and out,
and my old friends may not know me when we meet--but I'm English.  And
I'm loyal!"  Capper was getting a grip on himself; he thought the
patriotic line a safe one to play with the commander of a fortress.

"Yes--yes.  I don't question that, I'm sure," the general grunted, and
he began to riffle some papers on his desk petulantly.

Capper pressed home his point.  "I just want you to keep that in mind,
General, while I talk.  Just remember I'm English--and loyal."

The governor nodded impatiently.

Capper leaned far over the desk, and began in an eager whisper:

"General, remember Cook--that chap in Rangoon--the polo player?"  The
other looked blank.  "Haven't forgotten him, General?  How he lived in
Burma two years, mingling with the English, until one day somebody
discovered his name was Koch and that he was a mighty unhealthy chap to
have about the fortifications.  Surely----"

"Yes, I remember him now.  But what----"

"There was Hollister, too.  You played billiards in your club with
Hollister, I fancy.  Thought him all right, too--until a couple of
secret-service men walked into the club one day and clapped handcuffs
on him.  Remember that, General?"

The commander exclaimed snappishly that he could not see his visitor's
drift.

"I'm just refreshing your memory, General," Capper hastened to
reassure.  "Just reminding you that there isn't much difference between
a German and an Englishman, after all--if the German wants to play the
Englishman and knows his book.  He can fool a lot of us."

"Granted.  But I don't see what all this has to do with----"

"Listen, General!"  Capper was trembling in his eagerness.  "I'm just
in from Alexandria--came on the _Princess Mary_.  There was an
Englishman aboard, bound for Gib.  Name was Captain Woodhouse, of the
signal service."

"Quite right.  What of that?"  General Crandall looked up suspiciously.

"Have you seen Captain Woodhouse, General?"

"Not a half hour ago.  He called to report."

"Seemed all right to you--this Woodhouse?"  Capper eyed the other's
face narrowly.

"Of course.  Why not?"

"Remember Cook, General!  Remember Hollister!" Capper warned.

General Crandall exploded irritably: "What the devil do you mean?  What
are you driving at, man?"

The little spy leaped to his feet in his excitement and thrust his
weasel face far across the desk.

"What do I mean?  I mean this chap who calls himself Woodhouse isn't
Woodhouse at all.  He's a German spy--from the Wilhelmstrasse--with a
number from the Wilhelmstrasse!  He's on the Rock to do a spy's work!"

[Illustration: "He's a German spy."]

"Pshaw!  Why did Brussels let you go?"  General Crandall tipped back in
his seat and cast an amused glance at the flushed face before him.

Capper shook his head doggedly.  "I'm not drunk, General Crandall.  I'm
so broke I couldn't get drunk if I would.  So help me, I'm telling
God's truth.  I got it straight----"

Capper checked his tumult of words, and did some rapid thinking.  How
much did he dare reveal!  "In Alexandria, General--got it there--from
the inside, sir.  Koch is the head of the Wilhelmstrasse crowd
there--the same Cook you knew in Rangoon; he engineered the trick.  The
wildest dreams of the Wilhelmstrasse have come true.  They've got a man
in your signal tower, General--in your signal tower!"

General Crandall, in whom incredulity was beginning to give way to the
first faint glimmerings of conviction as to the possibility of truth in
the informer's tale, rallied himself nevertheless to combat an
aspersion cast on a British officer.

"Suppose the Germans have a spy in my signal tower or anywhere here,"
he began argumentatively.  "Suppose they learn every nook and corner of
the Rock--have the caliber and range of every gun in our defense; they
couldn't capture Gibraltar in a thousand years."

"I don't know what they want," Capper returned, with the injured air of
a man whose worth fails of recognition.  "I only came here to warn you
that your Captain Woodhouse is taking orders from Berlin."

"Come--come, man!  Give me some proof to back up this cock-and-bull
story," General Crandall snapped.  He had risen, and was pacing
nervously back and forth.

Capper was secretly elated at this sign that his story had struck home.
He stilled the fluttering of his hands by an effort, and tried to bring
his voice to the normal.

"Here it is, General--all I've got of the story.  The real Woodhouse
comes down from somewhere up in the Nile--I don't know where--and puts
up for the night in Alexandria to wait for the _Princess Mary_.  No
friends in the town, you know; nowhere to visit.  Three Wilhelmstrasse
men in Alexandria, headed by that clever devil Cook, or Koch, who calls
himself a doctor now.  Somehow they get hold of the real Woodhouse and
do for him--what I don't know--probably kill the poor devil.

"General, I saw with my own eyes an unconscious British officer being
carried away from Koch's house in Ramleh in an automobile--two men with
him."  Capper fixed the governor with a lean index finger dramatically.
"And I saw the man you just this morning received as Captain Woodhouse
leave Doctor Koch's house five minutes after that poor devil--the real
Woodhouse--had been carried off.  That's the reason I took the same
boat with him to Gibraltar, General Crandall--because I'm loyal and it
was my duty to warn you."

"Incredible!"

"One thing more, General."  Capper was sorely tempted, but for the
minute his wholesome fear of consequences curbed his tongue.
"Woodhouse isn't working alone on the Rock; you can be sure of that.
He's got friends to help him turn whatever trick he's after--maybe in
this very house.  They're clever people, you can mark that down on your
slate!"

"Ridiculous!"  The keeper of the Rock was fighting not to believe now.
"Why, I tell you if they had a hundred of their spies inside the
lines--if they knew the Rock as well as I do they could never take it."

Capper rose wearily, the air of a misunderstood man on him.

"Perhaps they aren't trying to capture it.  I know nothing about that.
Well--I've done my duty--as one Englishman to another.  I hope I've
told you in time.  I'll be going now."

General Crandall swung on him sharply.  "Where are you going?" he
demanded.

Capper shrugged his shoulders hopelessly.  Now was the minute he'd been
counting on--the peeling of crackling notes from a fat bundle, the
handsome words of appreciation.  Surely General Crandall was ripe.

"Well, General, frankly--I'm broke.  Haven't a shilling to bless myself
with.  I thought perhaps----"  Capper shot a keen glance at the older
man's face, which was partly turned from him.  The general appeared to
be pondering.  He turned abruptly on the spy.

"A few drinks and you might talk," he challenged.

Capper grinned deprecatively.  "I don't know, General--I might," he
murmured.  "I've been away from the drink so long that----"

"Where do you want to go?"  General Crandall cut him off.  "Of course,
you don't want to stay here indefinitely."

"Well--if I had a bit of money--they tell me everybody's broke in
Paris.  Millionaires--and everybody, you know.  You can get a room at
the Ritz for the asking.  That would be heaven for me--if I had
something in my pocket."

"You want to go to Paris, eh?"  General Crandall stepped closer to
Capper, and his eyes narrowed in scorn.

"If it could be arranged, yes, General."  Capper was spinning the brim
of his bowler between nervous fingers.  He did not dare meet the
other's glance.

"Demmit, Capper!  You come here to blackmail me!  I've met your kind
before.  I know how to deal with your ilk."

"So help me, General, I came here to tell you the truth.  I want to go
to Paris--or anywhere away from here; I'll admit that.  But that had
nothing to do with my coming all the way here from Alexandria--spending
my last guinea on a steamer ticket--to warn you of your danger.  I'm an
Englishman and--loyal!"  Capper was pleading now.  All hope of reward
had sped and the vision of a cell with subsequent investigations into
his own record appalled him.  General Crandall sat down at his desk and
began to write.

"I don't know--at any rate, I can't have you talking around here.
You're going to Paris."

Capper dropped his hat.  At a tap of the bell, Jaimihr Khan appeared at
the doors, so suddenly that one might have said he was right behind
them all the time.  General Crandall directed that his orderly be
summoned.  When the subaltern appeared, the general handed him a sealed
note.

"Orderly, turn this gentleman over to Sergeant Crosby at once," he
commanded, "and give the sergeant this note."  Then to Capper: "You
will cross to Algeciras, where you will be put on a train for Madrid.
You will have a ticket for Paris and twenty shillings for expense en
route.  You will be allowed to talk to no one alone before you leave
Gibraltar, and under no circumstances will you be allowed to
return--not while I am governor-general, at least."

Capper, his face alight with new-found joy, turned to pass out with the
orderly.  He paused at the doorway to frame a speech of thanks, but
General Crandall's back was toward him.  "Paris!" he sighed in rapture,
and the doors closed behind him.



CHAPTER XII

HER COUNTRY'S EXAMPLE

"Do you know, my dear, Cynthia Maxwell is simply going to die with envy
when she sees me in this!"

The plump little mistress of Government House, standing before a
full-length mirror, in her boudoir, surveyed herself with intense
satisfaction.  Her arms and neck burst startlingly from the clinging
sheath of the incomparable Doeuillet gown that was Jane Gerson's
douceur for official protection; in the flood of morning light pouring
through the mullioned windows Lady Crandall seemed a pink and
white--and somewhat florid--lily in bloom out of time.  Hildebrand's
buyer, on her knees and with deft fingers busy with the soft folds of
the skirt, answered through a mouthful of pins:

"Poor Cynthia; my heart goes out to her."

"Oh, it needn't!" Lady Crandall answered, with a tilting of her
strictly Iowa style nose.  "The Maxwell person has made me bleed more
than once here on the Rock with the gowns a fond mama sends her from
Paris.  But, honestly, isn't this a bit low for a staid middle-aged
person like myself?  I'm afraid I'll have trouble getting my precious
Doeuillet past the censor."  Lady Crandall plumed herself with secret
joy.

Jane looked up, puzzled.

"Oh, that's old Lady Porter--a perfect dragon," the general's wife
rattled on.  "Poor old dear; she thinks the Lord put her on the Rock
for a purpose.  Her own collars get higher and higher.  I believe if
she ever was presented at court she'd emulate the old Scotch lady who
followed the law of décolleté, but preserved her self-respect by
wearing a red flannel chest protector.  You must meet her."

"I'm afraid I won't have time to get a look at your dragon," Jane
returned, with a little laugh, all happiness.  "Now that Sir George has
promised me I can sail on the _Saxonia_ Friday----"

"You really must----"  The envious eyes of Lady Crandall fell on the
pile of plans--potent Delphic mysteries to charm the heart of
woman--that lay scattered about upon the floor.

Jane sat back on her heels and surveyed the melting folds of satin with
an artist's eye.

"If you only knew--what it means to me to get back with my baskets full
of French beauties!  Why, when I screwed up my courage two months ago
to go to old Hildebrand and ask him to send me abroad as his buyer--I'd
been studying drawing and French at nights for three years in
preparation, you see--he roared like the dear old lion he is and said I
was too young.  But I cooed and pleaded, and at last he said I could
come--on trial, and so----"

"He'll purr like a pussy-cat when you get back," Lady Crandall put in,
with a pat on the brown head at her knees.

"Maybe.  If I can slip into New York with my little baskets while all
the other buyers are still over here, cabling tearfully for money to
get home or asking their firms to send a warship to fetch them--why, I
guess the pennant's mine all right."

The eternal feminine, so strong in Iowa's transplanted stock, prompted
a mischievous question:

"Then you won't be leaving somebody behind when you sail--somebody who
seemed awfully nice and--_foreigny_ and all that?  All our American
girls find the moonlight over on this side infectious.  Witness me--a
'finishing trip' abroad after school days--and see where I've
finished--on a Rock!"  Lady Crandall bubbled laughter.  A shrewd
downward sweep of her eye was just in time to catch a flush mounting to
Jane's cheeks.

"Well, a Mysterious Stranger has crossed my path," Jane admitted.  "He
was very nice, but mysterious."

"Oh!"  A delighted gurgle from the older woman.  "Tell me all about
it--a secret for these ancient walls to hear."

Jane was about to reply when second thought checked her tongue.  Before
her flashed that strange meeting with Captain Woodhouse the night
before--his denial of their former meeting, followed by his curious
insistence on her keeping faith with him by not revealing the fact of
their acquaintance.  She had promised--why she had promised she could
no more divine than the reason for his asking; but a promise it was
that she would not betray his confidence.  More than once since that
minute in the reception room of the Hotel Splendide Jane Gerson had
reviewed the whole baffling circumstance in her mind and a growing
resentment at this stranger's demand, as well as at her own compliance
with it, was rising in her heart.  Still, this Captain Woodhouse was
"different," and--this Jane sensed without effort to analyze--the
mystery which he threw about himself but served to set him apart from
the common run of men.  She evaded Lady Crandall's probing with a shrug
of the shoulders.

"It's a secret which I myself do not know, Lady Crandall--and never
will."

Back to the o'erweening lure of the gown the flitting fancy of the
general's lady betook itself.

"You--don't think this is a shade too young for me, Miss Gerson?"
Anxiety pleaded to be quashed.

"Nonsense!" Jane laughed.

"But I'm no chicken, my dear.  If you would look me up in our family
Bible back in Davenport you'd find----"

"People don't believe everything they read in the Bible any more," Jane
assured her.  "Your record and Jonah's would both be open to doubt."

"You're very comforting," Lady Crandall beamed.  Her maid knocked and
entered on the lady's crisp: "Come!"

"The general wishes to see you, Lady Crandall, in the library."

"Tell the general I'm in the midst of trying on----" Lady Crandall
began, then thought better of her excuse.  She dropped the shimmering
gown from her shoulders and slipped into a kimono.

"Some stuffy plan for entertaining somebody or other, my dear"--this to
Jane.  "The real burden of being governor-general of the Rock falls on
the general's wife.  Just slip into your bonnet, and when I'm back
we'll take that little stroll through the Alameda I've promised you for
this morning."  She clutched her kimono about her and whisked out of
the room.

General Crandall, just rid of the dubious pleasure of Billy Capper's
company, was pacing the floor of the library office thoughtfully.  He
looked up with a smile at his wife's entrance.

"Helen, I want you to do something for me," he said.

"Certainly, dear."  Lady Crandall was not an unpleasing picture of ripe
beauty to look on, in the soft drape of her Japanese robe.  Even in his
worry, General Crandall found himself intrigued for the minute.

"There's a new chap in the signal service--just in from Egypt--name's
Woodhouse.  I wish you would invite him to tea, my dear."

"Of course; any day."

"This afternoon, if you please, Helen," the general followed.

His wife looked slightly puzzled.

"This afternoon?  But, George, dear, isn't that--aren't
you--ah--rushing this young man to have him up to Government House so
soon after his arrival?"  She suddenly remembered something that caused
her to reverse herself.  "Besides, I've asked him to dinner--the dinner
I'm to give the Americans to-morrow night before they sail."

General Crandall looked his surprise.

"You didn't tell me that.  I didn't know you had met him."

"Just happened to," Lady Crandall cut in hastily.  "Met him at the
Hotel Splendide last night when I brought Miss Gerson home with me."

"What was Woodhouse doing at the Splendide?" the general asked
suspiciously.

"Why, spending the night, you foolish boy.  Just off the _Princess
Mary_, he was.  I believe he did Miss Gerson some sort of a
service--and I met him in that way--quite informally."

"Did Miss Gerson--a service--hum!"

"Oh, a trifling thing!  It seemed she had only French money, and that
cautious Almer fellow wouldn't accept it.  Captain Woodhouse gave her
English gold for it--to pay her bill.  But why----"

"Has Miss Gerson seen him since?" General Crandall asked sharply.

"Why, George, dear, how could she?  We haven't been up from the
breakfast table an hour."

"Woodhouse was here less than an hour ago to pay his duty call and
report," he explained.  "I thought perhaps he might have met our guest
somewhere in the garden as he was coming or going."

"He did send her some lovely roses."  Lady Crandall brightened at this,
to her, patent inception of a romance; she doted on romances.  "They
were in Miss Gerson's room before she was down to breakfast."

"Roses, eh?  And they met informally at the Splendide only last night."
Suspicion was weighing the general's words.  "Isn't that a bit sudden?
I say, do you think Miss Gerson and this Captain Woodhouse had met
somewhere before last night?"

"I hardly think so--she on her first trip to the Continent and he
coming from Egypt.  But----"

"No matter.  I want him here to tea this afternoon."  The general
dismissed the subject and turned to his desk.  His lady's curiosity
would not be so lightly turned away.

"All these questions--aren't they rather absurd?  Is anything wrong?"
She ran up to him and laid her hands on his shoulders.

"Of course not, dear."  He kissed her lightly on the brow.  "Now run
along and play with that new gown Miss Gerson gave you.  I imagine
that's the most important thing on the Rock to-day."

Lady Crandall gave her soldier-husband a peck on each cheek, and
slapped back to her room.  When he was alone again, General Crandall
resumed his restless pacing.  Resolution suddenly crystallized, and he
stepped to the desk telephone.  He called a number.

"That you, Bishop? ... General Crandall speaking....  Bishop, you were
here on the Rock seven years ago? ... Good! ... Pretty good memory for
names and faces, eh? ... Right! ... I want you to come to Government
House for tea at five this afternoon....  But run over for a little
talk with me some time earlier--an hour from now, say.  Rather
important....  You'll be here....  Thank you."

General Crandall sat at his desk and tried to bring himself down to the
routine crying from accumulated papers there.  But the canker Billy
Capper had implanted in his mind would not give him peace.
Major-general Crandall was a man cast in the stolid British mold; years
of army discipline and tradition of the service had given to his
conservatism a hard grain.  In common with most of those in high
command, he held to the belief that nothing existed--nothing could
exist--which was not down in the regulations of the war office, made
and provided.  For upward of twenty-five years he had played the hard
game of the service--in Egypt, in Burma, on the broiling rocks of Aden,
and here, at last, on the key to the Mediterranean.  During all those
years he had faithfully pursued his duty, had stowed away in his mind
the wisdom disseminated in blue-bound books by that corporate paragon
of knowledge at home, the war office.  But never had he read in
anything but fluffy fiction of a place or a thing called the
Wilhelmstrasse, reputed by the scriveners to be the darkest closet and
the most potent of all the secret chambers of diplomacy.  The
regulations made no mention of a Wilhelmstrasse, even though they
provided the brand of pipe clay that should brighten men's pith helmets
and stipulated to the ounce an emergency ration.  Therefore, to the
official military mind at least, the Wilhelmstrasse was non-existent.

But here comes a beach-comber, a miserable jackal from the back alleys
of society, and warns the governor-general of the Rock that he has a
man from the Wilhelmstrasse--a spy bent on some unfathomable
mission--in his very forces on the Rock.  He says that an agent of the
enemy has dared masquerade as a British officer in order to gain
admission inside the lines of Europe's most impregnable fortress,
England's precious stronghold, there to do mischief!

General Crandall's tremendous responsibility would not permit him to
ignore such a warning, coming even from so low a source.  Yet the man
found himself groping blindly in the dark before the dilemma presented;
he had no foot rule of precept or experience to guide him.

His fruitless searching for a prop in emergency was broken by the
appearance of Jane Gerson in the door opening from Lady Crandall's
rooms to the right of the library.  The girl was dressed for the
out-of-doors; in her arms was a fragrant bunch of blood-red roses,
spraying out from the top of a bronze bowl.  The girl hesitated and
drew back in confusion at seeing the room occupied; she seemed eager to
escape undetected.  But General Crandall smilingly checked her flight.

"I--I thought you would be out," Jane stammered, "and----"

"And the posies----" the general interrupted.

"Were for you to enjoy when you should come back."  She smiled easily
into the man's eyes.  "They'll look so much prettier here than in my
room."

"Very good of you, I'm sure."  General Crandall stepped up to the rich
cluster of buds and sniffed critically.  Without looking at the girl,
he continued: "It appears to me as though you had already made a
conquest on the Rock.  One doesn't pick these from the cliffs, you
know."

"I should hardly call it a conquest," Jane answered, with a sprightly
toss of her head.

"But a young man sent you these flowers.  Come--confess!"  The
general's tone was bantering, but his eyes did not leave the piquant
face under the chic summer straw hat that shaded it.

"Surely.  One of your own men--Captain Woodhouse, of the signal
service."  Jane was rearranging the stems in the bowl, apparently ready
to accept what was on the surface of the general's rallying.

"Woodhouse, eh?  You've known him for a long time, I take it."

"Since last night, General.  And yet some people say Englishmen are
slow."  She laughed gaily and turned to face him.  His voice took on a
subtle quality of polite insistence:

"Surely you met him somewhere before Gibraltar."

"How could I, when this is the first time Captain Woodhouse has been
out of Egypt for years?"

"Who told you that?"  The general was quick to catch her up.  The girl
felt a swift stab of fear.  On the instant she realized that here was
somebody attempting to drive into the mystery which she herself could
not understand, but which she had pledged herself to keep inviolate.
Her voice fluttered in her throat as she answered:

"Why, he did himself, General."

"He did, eh?  Gave you a bit of his history on first meeting.
Confiding chap, what!  But you, Miss Gerson--you've been to Egypt, you
say?"

"No, General."

Jane was beginning to find this cross-examination distinctly painful.
She felt that already her pledge, so glibly given at Captain
Woodhouse's insistence, was involving her in a situation the
significance of which might prove menacing to herself--and one other.
She could sense the beginnings of a strain between herself and this
genial elderly gentleman, her host.

"Do you know, Miss Gerson"--he was speaking soberly now--"I believe you
and Captain Woodhouse have met before."

"You're at liberty to think anything you like, General--the truth or
otherwise."  Her answer, though given smilingly, had a sting behind it.

"I'm not going to think much longer.  I'm going to _know_!"  He clapped
his lips shut over the last word with a smack of authority.

"Are you really, General Crandall?"  The girl's eyes hardened just
perceptibly.  He took a turn of the room and paused, facing her.  The
situation pleased him no more than it did his breezy guest, but he knew
his duty and doggedly pursued it.

"Come--come, Miss Gerson!  I believe you're straightforward and sincere
or I wouldn't be wasting my time this way.  I'll be the same with you.
This is a time of war; you understand all that implies, I hope.  A
serious question concerning Captain Woodhouse's position here has
arisen.  If you have met him before--as I think you have--it will be to
your advantage to tell me where and when.  I am in command of the Rock,
you know."

He finished with an odd tenseness of tone that conveyed assurance of
his authority even more than did the sense of his words.  His guest,
her back to the table on which the roses rested and her hands bracing
her by their tense grip on the table edge, sought his eyes boldly.

"General Crandall," she began, "my training in Hildebrand's store
hasn't made me much of a diplomat.  All this war and intrigue makes me
dizzy.  But I know one thing: this isn't my war, or my country's, and
I'm going to follow my country's example and keep out of it."

General Crandall shrugged his shoulders and smiled at the girl's
defiance.

"Maybe your country may not be able to do that," he declared, with a
touch of solemnity.  "I pray God it may.  But I'm afraid your
resolution will not hold, Miss Gerson."

"I'm going to try to make it, anyway," she answered.

Gibraltar's commander, baffled thus by a neutral--a neutral fair to
look on, in the bargain--tried another tack.  He assumed the fatherly
air.

"Lady Crandall and I have tried to show you we were friends--tried to
help you get home," he began.

"You've been very good to me," Jane broke in feelingly.

"What I say now is spoken as a friend, not as governor of the Rock.  If
it is true that you have met Woodhouse before--and our conversation
here verifies my suspicion--that very fact makes his word worthless and
releases you from any promise you may have made not to reveal this and
what you may know about him.  Also it should put you on your guard--his
motives in any attentions he may pay you can not be above suspicion."

"I think that is a personal matter I am perfectly capable of handling."
Jane's resentment sent the flags to her cheeks.

General Crandall was quick to back-water: "Yes, yes!  Don't
misunderstand me.  What I mean to say is----"

He was interrupted by his wife's voice calling for Jane from the
near-by room.  Anticipating her interruption, he hurried on:

"For the present, Miss Gerson, we'll drop this matter.  I said a few
minutes ago I intended shortly to--_know_.  I hope I won't have to
carry out that--threat."

Jane was withdrawing one of the buds from the jar.  At his last word,
she dropped it with a little gasp.

"Threat, General?"

"I hope not.  Truly I hope not.  But, young woman----"

She stooped, picked up the flower, and was setting it in his buttonhole
before he could remonstrate.

"This one was for you, General," she said, and the truce was sealed.
That minute, Lady Crandall was wafted into the room on the breeze of
her own staccato interruption.

"What's this--what's this!  Flirting with poor old George--pinning a
rose on my revered husband when my back's turned?  Brazen miss.  I'm
here to take you off to the gardens at once, where you can find
somebody younger--and not near so dear--to captivate with your tricks.
At once, now!"

She had her arm through Jane's and was marching her off.  An exchange
of glances between the governor and Hildebrand's young diplomat of the
dollar said that what had passed between them was a confidence.

Jaimihr Khan announced Major Bishop to the general a short time later.
The major, a rotund pink-faced man of forty, who had the appearance of
being ever tubbed and groomed to the pink of parade perfection, saluted
his superior informally, accepted a cigarette and crossed his plump
legs in an easy chair near the general's desk.  General Crandall folded
his arms on his desk and went direct to his subject:

"Major, you were here on the Rock seven years ago, you say?"

"Here ten years, General.  Regular rock scorpion--old-timer."

"Do you happen to recall this chap Woodhouse whom I sent to you to
report for duty in the signal tower to-day?  Has transfer papers from
Wady Halfa."

"Haven't met him yet, though Captain Carson tells me he reported at my
office a little more than an hour ago--see him after parade.
Woodhouse--Woodhouse----"  The major propped his chin on his fingers in
thought.

"His papers--army record and all that--say he was here on the Rock for
three months in the spring of nineteen-seven," General Crandall urged,
to refresh the other's memory.

Major Bishop stroked his round cheeks, tugged at one ear, but found
recollection difficult.

"When I see the chap--so many coming and going, you know.  Three
months--bless me!  That's a thin slice out of ten years."

"Major, I'm going to take you into my confidence," the senior officer
began; then he related the incident of Capper's visit and repeated the
charge he had made.  Bishop sat aghast at the word "spy."

"Woodhouse will be here to tea this afternoon," continued Crandall.
"While you and I ask him a few leading questions, I'll have Jaimihr, my
Indian, search his room in barracks.  I trust Jaimihr implicitly, and
he can do the job smoothly.  Now, Bishop, what do you remember about
nineteen-seven--something we can lead up to in conversation, you know?"

The younger man knuckled his brow for a minute, then looked up brightly.

"I say, General, Craigen was governor then.  But--um--aren't you a
bit--mild; this asking of a suspected spy to tea?"

"What can I do?" the other replied, somewhat testily.  "I can't clap an
officer of his majesty's army into prison on the mere say-so of a
drunken outcast who has no proof to offer.  I must go slowly, Major.
Watch for a slip from this Woodhouse.  One bad move on his part, and he
starts on his way to face a firing squad."

Bishop had risen and was slowly pacing the room, his eyes on the walls,
hung with many portraits in oils.

"Well, you can't help admiring the nerve of the chap," he muttered,
half to himself.  "Forcing his way on to the Rock--why, he might as
well put his head in a cannon's mouth."

"I haven't time to admire," the general said shortly.  "Thing to do is
to act."

"Quite right.  Nineteen-seven, eh?  Um----"

He paused before the portrait of a young woman in a Gainsborough hat
and with a sparkling piquant face.  "By George, General, why not try
him on Lady Evelyn?  There's a fair test for you, now!"

"You mean Craigen's wife?"  The general looked up at the portrait
quizzically.  "Skeleton's bones, Bishop."

"Right; but no man who ever saw her could forget.  I know I never can.
Poor Craigen!"

"Good idea, though," the older man acquiesced.  "We'll trip him on Lady
Evelyn."

Jaimihr Khan appeared at the double doors.  "The general sahib's
orderly," he announced.  The young subaltern entered and saluted.

"That young man, General Crandall, the one Sergeant Crosby was to
escort out of the lines to Algeciras----"

"Well, what of him?  He's gone, I hope."

"First train to Madrid, General; but he left a message for you, sir, to
be delivered after he'd gone, he said."

"A message?"  General Crandall was perplexed.

"As Sergeant Crosby had it and gave it to me to repeat to you, sir, it
was, 'Arrest the cigar girl calling herself Josepha.  She is one of the
cleverest spies of the Wilhelmstrasse.'"



CHAPTER XIII

ENTER, A CIGARETTE

Mr. Joseph Almer, proprietor of the Hotel Splendide, on Waterport
Street, was absorbed, heart and soul, in a curious task.  He was
emptying the powder from two-grain quinine capsules on to a sheet of
white letter paper on his desk.

It was noon of Wednesday, the day following the arrival of Captain
Woodhouse.  Almer was alone in the hotel's reception room and office
behind the dingy glass partially enclosing his desk.  His
alpaca-covered shoulders were close to his ears; and his bald head,
with its stripes of plastered hair running like thick lines of latitude
on a polished globe, was held far forward so as to bring his eyes on
the work in hand.  Like some plump magpie he appeared, turning over
bits of china in a treasure hole.

A round box of the gelatine cocoons lay at his left hand; it had just
been delivered by an Arab boy, quick to pick up the street commission
for a tuppence.  Very methodically Almer picked the capsules from the
box one by one, opened them, and spilled the quinine in a little heap
under his nose.  He grunted peevishly when the sixth shell had been
emptied.  The seventh capsule brought an eager whistle to his lips.
When he had jerked the concentric halves apart, very little powder fell
out.  Instead, the thin, folded edges of a pellet of rice paper
protruded from one of the containers.  This Almer had extracted in an
instant.  He spread it against the black back of a ledger and read the
very fine script written thereon.  This was the message:


"Danger.  An informer from Alexandria has denounced our two friends to
Crandall.  You must warn; I can not."


The spy's heart was suddenly drained, and the wisp of paper in his hand
trembled so that it scattered the quinine about in a thin cloud.  Once
more he read the note, then held a match to it and scuffed its feathery
ash with his feet into the rug beneath his stool.  The fortitude which
had held Joseph Almer to the Rock in the never-failing hope that some
day would bring him the opportunity to do a great service for the
fatherland came near crumbling that minute.  He groaned.

"Our friends," he whispered, "Woodhouse and Louisa--trapped!"

The warning in the note left nothing open to ambiguity for Almer; there
were but four of them--"friends" under the Wilhelmstrasse fellowship of
danger--there in Gibraltar: Louisa, the man who passed as Woodhouse,
and whose hand was to execute the great coup when the right moment
came, himself, and that other one whose place was in Government House
itself.  From this latter the note of warning had come.  How desperate
the necessity for it Almer could guess when he took into reckoning the
dangers that beset any attempt at communication on the writer's part.
So narrow the margin of safety for this "friend" that he must look at
each setting sun as being reasonably the last for him.

Almer did not attempt to go behind the note and guess who was the
informer that had lodged information with the governor-general.  He had
forgotten, in fact, the incident of the night before, when the
blustering Capper called the newly arrived Woodhouse by name.  The
flash of suspicion that attached responsibility to the American girl
named Gerson was dissipated as quickly as it came; she had arrived by
motor from Paris, not on the boat from Alexandria.  His was now the
imperative duty to carry warning to the two suspected, not to waste
time in idle speculation as to the identity of the betrayer.  There was
but one ray of hope in this sudden pall of gloom, and that Almer
grasped eagerly.  He knew the character of General Crandall--the
phlegmatic conservatism of the man, which would not easily be jarred
out of an accustomed line of thought and action.  The general would be
slow to leap at an accusation brought against one wearing the stripes
of service; and, though he might reasonably attempt to test Captain
Woodhouse, one such as Woodhouse, chosen by the Wilhelmstrasse to
accomplish so great a mission, would surely have the wit to parry
suspicion.

Yes, he must be put on his guard.  As for Louisa--well, it would be too
bad if the girl should have to put her back against a wall; but she
could be spared; she was not essential.  After he had succeeded in
getting word of his danger to Woodhouse, Almer would consider saving
Louisa from a firing squad.  The nimble mind of Herr Almer shook itself
free from the incubus of dread and leaped to the exigency of the
moment.  Calling his head waiter to keep warm the chair behind the
desk, Almer retired to his room, and there was exceedingly busy for
half an hour.

The hour of parade during war time on Gibraltar was one o'clock.  At
that time, six days a week, the half of the garrison not actually in
fighting position behind the great guns of the defense marched to the
parade grounds down by the race track and there went through the
grilling regimen that meant perfection and the maintenance of a
hair-trigger state of efficiency.  Down from the rocky eminences where
the barracks stood, marched this day block after block of olive-drab
fighting units--artillerymen for the most part, equipped with the rifle
and pack of infantrymen.  No blare of brass music gave the measure to
their step; bandsmen in this time of reality paced two by two,
stretchers carried between them.  All the curl and snap of silken
banners that made the parade a moving spectacle in ordinary times was
absent; flags do not figure in the grim modern business of warfare.
Just those solid blocks of men trained to kill, sweeping down on to the
level grounds and massing, rank on rank, for inspection and the
trip-hammer pound-pound-pound of evolutions to follow.  Silent integers
of power, flexing their muscles for the supreme test that any morning's
sun might bring.

Mr. Henry J. Sherman stood with his wife, Kitty and Willy
Kimball--Kimball had developed a surprising interest in one of these
home folks, at least--under the shade of the row of plane trees
fringing the parade grounds.  They tried to persuade themselves that
they were seeing something worth while.  This pleasing fiction wore
thin with Mr. Sherman before fifteen minutes had passed.

"Shucks, mother!  The boys at the national-guard encampment down to
Galesburg fair last year made a better showing than this."  He pursed
out his lips and regarded a passing battalion with a critical eye.

"Looked more like soldiers, anyway," mother admitted.  "Those floppy,
broad-brimmed hats our boys wear make them look more--more romantic,
I'd say."

"But, my dear Mrs. Sherman"--Willy Kimball flicked his handkerchief
from his cuff and fluttered it across his coat sleeve, where dust had
fallen--"the guards back in the States are play soldiers, you know;
these chaps, here--well, they are the real thing.  They don't dress up
like picture-book soldiers and show off----"

"Play soldiers--huh!"  Henry J. had fire in his eye, and the pearl
buttons on his white linen waistcoat creaked with the swelling of a
patriot's pride.  "You've been a long time from home, Willy.  Perhaps
you've forgotten that your own father was at Corinth.  Guess you've
overlooked that soldiers' monument in Courthouse Square back in little
old Kewanee.  They were 'play soldiers,' eh?--those boys who marched
away with your dad in sixty-one.  Gimme a regiment of those old boys in
blue, and they could lick this whole bunch of----"

"Father!"  Kitty had flipped her hand over her parent's mouth, her eyes
round with real fear.  "You'll get arrested again, talking that way
here where everybody can hear you.  Remember what that hotel man said
last night about careless remarks about military things on the Rock?
Be good, father."

"There, there!"  Sherman removed the monitory hand and patted it
reassuringly.  "I forgot.  But when I get aboard the _Saxonia_ and well
out to sea, I'm going to just bust information about what I think of
things in general over here in this Europe place--their Bottycelly
pictures and their broken-down churches and--and----  Why, bless my
soul!  The little store buyer and that Iowa girl who's married to the
governor here!"

The patriot stopped short in his review of the Continent's
delinquencies to wave his hat at Lady Crandall and Jane Gerson, who
were trundling down under the avenue of planes in a smart dog-cart.
Lady Crandall answered his hail with a flourish of her whip, turned her
horse off the road, and brought her conveyance to a stop by the group
of exiles.  Hearty greetings passed around.  The governor's wife showed
her unaffected pleasure at the meeting.

"I thought you wouldn't miss the parade," she called down from her high
seat.  "Only thing that moves on the Rock--these daily reviews.
Brought Miss Gerson down here so when she gets back to New York she can
say she's seen the defenders of Gibraltar, if not in action, at least
doing their hard training for it."

"Well, I don't mind tellin' you," Sherman began defiantly, "I think the
national guard of Illynoy can run circles around these Englishmen when
it comes to puttin' up a show.  Now, Kitty, don't you try to drive a
plug in your dad's sentiments again; Mrs. Crandall's all right--one of
us."  A shocked look from his daughter.  "Oh, there I go again,
forgettin'.  Lady Crandall, I mean.  Excuse me, ma'am."

"Don't you dare apologize," the governor's wife playfully threatened
Mr. Sherman with her whip.  "I love the sound of good, old-fashioned
'Missis.'  Just imagine--married five years, and nobody has called me
'Mrs. Crandall' until you did just now.  'Wedded, But Not a Missis';
wouldn't that be a perfectly gorgeous title for a Laura Jean novel?
Miss Gerson, let's hop out and join these home folks; they're my kind."

The burst of laughter that greeted Lady Crandall's sally was not over
before she had leaped nimbly from her high perch, Henry J. gallantly
assisting.  Jane followed, and the coachman from his little bob seat in
the back drove the dog-cart over the road to wait his mistress'
pleasure.  The scattered blocks of olive-gray on the field had
coalesced into a solid regiment now, and the long double rank of men
was sweeping forward like the cutting arm of a giant mower.  The party
of Americans joined the sparse crowd of spectators at the edge of the
field, the better to see.  Jane Gerson found herself chatting with
Willy Kimball and Kitty Sherman a little apart from the others.  A
light touch fell on her elbow.  She turned to find Almer, the hotel
keeper, smiling deferentially.

"Pardon--a thousand pardons for the intrusion, lady.  I am Almer, of
the Hotel Splendide."

"You haven't remembered something more I owe you," Jane challenged
bruskly.

"Oh, no, lady!" Almer spread out his hands.  "I happened to see you
here watching the parade, and I remembered a trivial duty I have which,
if I may be so bold as to ask, you may discharge much more quickly than
I--if you will."

"I discharge a duty--for you?"  The girl did not conceal her
puzzlement.  Almer's hand fumbled in a pocket of his flapping alpaca
coat and produced a plain silver cigarette case, unmonogrammed.  She
looked at it wonderingly.

"Captain Woodhouse--you met him at my hotel last night, lady.  He left
this lying on his dresser when he quit his room to go to barracks
to-day.  For me it is difficult to send a messenger with it to the
barracks--war time, lady--many restrictions inside the lines.  I came
here hoping perhaps to see the captain after the parade.  But you----"

"You wish me to give this to Captain Woodhouse?" Jane finished, a
flicker of annoyance crossing her face.  "Why me?"

"You are at Government House, lady.  Captain Woodhouse comes to
tea--all newcomers to the garrison do that.  If you would be so
good----"

Jane took the cigarette case from Almer's outstretched hand.  Lady
Crandall had told her the captain would be in for tea that afternoon.
It was a small matter, this accommodation, as long as Almer did not
insinuate--as he had not done--any impertinence; imply any over
eagerness on her part to perform so minor a service for the officer.
Almer bowed his thanks and lost himself in the crowd.  Jane turned
again to where Kitty and Kimball were chatting.

"A dun for extra service the landlord forgot last night, I'll wager,"
the youth greeted her.

"Oh, no, just a little present," Jane laughed back at him, holding up
the silver case.  "With Almer's compliments to Captain Woodhouse, who
forgot it when he gave up his room to-day.  I've promised to turn it
over to the captain and save the hotel man a lot of trouble and red
tape getting a messenger through to the captain's quarters."

"By Jove!"  Kimball's tired eyes lighted up with a quick flash of
smoker's yearning.  "A life-saver!  Came away from my room without my
pet Egyptians--Mr. Sherman yelling at me to hurry or we'd miss this
slow show and all that.  I'm going to play the panhandler and beg one
of your captain friend's smokes.  He must be a good sort or you
wouldn't be doing little favors for him, Miss Gerson.  Come, now; in
your capacity as temporary executrix will you invest one of the
captain's cigarettes in a demand of real charity?"

Keen desire was scarcely veiled under Kimball's fiction of light
patter.  Smilingly the girl extended the case to him.

"Just to make it businesslike, the executrix demands your note
for--um--sixty days, say.  'For one cigarette received, I promise to
pay----'"

"Given!"  He pulled a gold pencil from his pocket and made a pretense
of writing the form on his cuff.  Then he lit his borrowed cigarette
and inhaled it gratefully.

"Your captain friend's straight from Egypt; I don't have to be told
that," Willy Kimball murmured, in polite ecstasy.  "At Shepard's, in
Cairo, you'll get such a cigarette as this, and nowhere else in a
barren world.  The breath of the acanthus blossom--if it really has a
breath--never heard."

"Back in Kewanee the Ladies' Aid Society will have you arrested," Kitty
put in mischievously.  "They're terribly wrought up over
cigarettes--for minors."

Kimball cast her a glance of deep reproach.  As he lifted the cigarette
to his lips for a second puff, Jane's eyes mechanically followed the
movement.  Something caught and held them, wonder-filled.

On the side of the white paper cylinder nearest her a curious brown
streak appeared--by the merest freak of chance her glance fell on it.
As she looked, the thin stain grew darker nearest the fresh ash.  The
farther end of the faint tracing moved--yes, moved, like a threadworm
groping its way along a stick.

"Now what are they all doing out there?" Kitty Sherman was asking.
"All those men running top speed with their guns carried up so high."

"Bayonet charge," Kimball answered.  "Nothing like the real thing, of
course."

Jane Gerson was watching the twisting and writhing of that filament of
brown against the white.  An invisible hand was writing in brown ink on
the side of the cigarette--writing backward and away from the burning
tip.  It lengthened by seconds--"and Louisa to Crandall."

So the letters of silver nitrate formed themselves under her eyes.
Kimball took the cigarette from his lips and held it by his side for a
minute.  He and Kitty were busy with each other's company for the time,
ignoring Jane.  She burned with curiosity and with excitement mounting
like the fire of wine to her brain.  Would he never put that cigarette
to his lips again, so she could follow the invisible pen!  So fleeting,
so evanescent that worm track on the paper, wrought by fire and by fire
to be consumed.  A mystery vanishing even as it was aborning!  After
ages, the unconscious Kimball set the cigarette again in his lips.


  "--nformer has denounced you and Louisa-t-
  --play your game and he will be slow to----"


Again the cigarette came away in Kimball's hand.  Acting on impulse she
did not stop to question, Jane struck it from the young man's
outstretched hand and set her foot on it as it fell in the dust.

"Oh, I'm clumsy!"  She fell lightly against Kimball's shoulder and
caught herself in well-simulated confusion.  "Standing tiptoe to see
what that man on a horse is going to do--lost my balance.  And--and
your precious cigarette--gone!"

The anguish in Jane Gerson's voice was not play.  It was real--terribly
real.



CHAPTER XIV

THE CAPTAIN COMES TO TEA

Jane Gerson, alone for the first time since the incident of the
cigarette on the parade ground a few hours back, sat before a narrow
window in her room at Government House, fighting a great bewilderment.
The window opened on a varied prospect of blooming gardens and
sail-flecked bay beyond.  But for her eyes the riot of color and clash
of contrast between bald cliff and massed green had no appeal.  Her
hands locked and unlocked themselves on her lap.  The girl's mind was
struggling to coordinate scattered circumstances into a comprehensible
whole, to grapple with the ethical problem of her own conduct.

What she knew, or thought she knew--and what she should do--those were
the two saber points of the dilemma upon which she found herself
impaled.

Could there now be any doubt of what she felt to be the truth?  First,
she had met Captain Woodhouse on the Express du Nord--an officer in the
English army, by his own statement, returning from leave in England to
his post in Egypt.  Then, the encounter of last night at the Hotel
Splendide, Captain Woodhouse first denying his identity, then admitting
it under the enforced pledge that she should not reveal the former
meeting.  Captain Woodhouse, not in Egypt, but at Gibraltar, and, as
she had soon learned, there with papers of transfer from an Egyptian
post to the garrison of the Rock.  Following this surprise had come
General Crandall's dogged examination of that morning--his blunt
declaration that a serious question as to the captain's position at
Gibraltar had arisen, and his equally plain-spoken threat to have the
truth from her concerning her knowledge of the suspected officer.

To cap all, the message on the cigarette!  An informer--she guessed the
prefix to the unfinished word--had denounced "you and Louisa" to
General Crandall.  To whom the pronoun referred was
unmistakable--Almer's eagerness to insure Captain Woodhouse's receiving
the cigarette case plainly defined that.  As to "Louisa," involved with
Woodhouse, the girl from Hildebrand's was sensible only of a passing
flash of curiosity, made a bit more piquant, perhaps, by a little dart
of jealousy, hardly comprehended as such.  A hotel keeper warns an
officer in the Gibraltar garrison that he has been denounced, but in
the same message adjures him to "play your own game."  That was the
single compelling fact.

Jane Gerson flushed--in anger, or was it through guilt?--when she found
her lips framing the word "spy"!

Now she understood why General Crandall had put her on the grill--why
he, informed, had leaped to the significance of the gift of roses and
deduced her previous acquaintance with their donor.  Her host was not,
after all, the possessor of magical powers of mind reading.  He was,
instead, just the sober, conscientious protector of the Rock on whom
rested responsibility for the lives of its defenders and the
maintenance of England's flag there.  His duty was to catch--and
shoot--spies.

Shoot spies!  The girl's heart contracted at the thought.  No, no!  She
would not--she could not reveal to the governor the knowledge she had.
That would be to send death to a man as surely as if hers was the
finger at the trigger.

Jane Gerson was on her feet now, pacing the room.  Over and over again
she told herself that this man who had come into her life, obliquely
enough, had no claim on her; had brought nothing to her but distress.
He had deceived her even, and then, when caught in the deception, had
wrested from her a promise that she would help him continue further
deception against others.  Against her will he had made her a party to
some deep and audacious plot, whose purpose she could not guess, but
which must be but a part of the huge mystery of war.

And soon this Captain Woodhouse was to come to his trial--the purpose
of his invitation to tea that afternoon flashed clear as white light.
Soon she would be in the same room with him; would be forced to witness
the spinning of the web set to trap him.  He would come unwarned,
unsuspecting.  He might leave that room under guard and with guns at
his back--guns soon to be leveled at his heart.  Yet she, Jane Gerson,
possessed the power to save him--as the warning of the cigarette surely
would be saving, once a clever man were put on his guard by it.

Would she speak--and betray General Crandall, her kindly host?  Would
she lock her lips and see a man walk blindfolded to his death?


A few minutes before five o'clock, Major Bishop was announced at
Government House and received by General Crandall in the library.
Before Jaimihr Khan, who had preceded the visitor through the double
doors from the hall, could retire, his master stopped him.

"One minute, Jaimihr!  Have a seat, Bishop; glad you've come a bit
early.  Come here, Jaimihr!"

The tall reedlike figure of the Indian glided to General Crandall's
side.  His thin ascetic features were set in their usual mold of
unseeing detachment; only his dark eyes showed animation.

"Yes, my General," he said, as he stopped before the Englishman.

"I have a little commission for you, Jaimihr," General Crandall began,
weighing his words with care.  "The utmost discretion--you understand?"

"The utmost.  I understand."  Jaimihr Khan's lips moved ever so
slightly, and his eyes looked steadily ahead.

"In the course of a few minutes, Captain Woodhouse, of the signal
service, will be here to tea," the general began.  The Indian repeated
mechanically: "Cap-tain Wood-house."

"As soon as you have ushered him into this room, you will go as quickly
as you can to the West Barracks.  His room will be No. 36, on the
second gallery.  You will enter his room with a key I shall give you
and search it from end to end--everything in it.  Anything that is of a
suspicious nature--you understand, Jaimihr, what that might be--you
will bring here to me at once."

"It shall be done, General Sahib."

"No one, officer or man, must suspect your errand.  No one must see you
enter or leave that room."

"No one," the Indian repeated.

General Crandall went to a wall safe set by the side of the double
doors, turned the combination, and opened it.  He took from a drawer
therein a bunch of keys, selected one, and passed it to Jaimihr Khan.

"The utmost care, remember!" he warned again.

"Is it likely I should fail you this time, General Sahib, when so many
times I have succeeded?"

"Make the search complete."  General Crandall ignored his servant's
question.  "But return as quickly as you can.  I shall keep Captain
Woodhouse here until you do so.  You must report to me before he leaves
this house."

"When the moment arrives, your servant shall fly, General Sahib," the
Indian replied, and withdrew.

"I say, General, you have a great deal of faith in your Indian," Bishop
ventured, accepting a cigarette from his superior's case.  "Rather a
delicate commission you've given him."

"Absolute faith, yes.  Been with me five years--picked him up in
Rangoon--have tried him many times, and found him loyal as any officer
in the service."  General Crandall put in his words enough emphasis to
carry slight rebuke for the other's implied criticism.  But the pursy
little major was too sure of the fine terms of personal friendship
between himself and his superior to feel embarrassment.

"About that girl, General--that cigar girl, Josepha, concerning whom
your beach-comber friend sent that warning this morning from the safe
ground of Spain----"

"Obvious thing would have been to clap her in a cell," the governor
answered.  "But I have not, for the very good reason that if there's
anything in this fellow's accusations against her, as well as against
Woodhouse, the game will be to keep her watched and give our captain an
opportunity to communicate with her.  Minute he does that--why, we've
got our proof against both."

"Then I take it you've put a trailer on the girl?"

"At eight o'clock to-night I'll know where she's been every hour of the
day," the general returned confidently.  "She can't leave the town
without being arrested.  Now, as to our plan for Woodhouse's
reception--this affair of Craigen's wife; we might as well agree on
points, so that----"  He heard his wife's voice in the room off the
library, and broke off abruptly.  "Confound it; the women are coming!
Just step into my room with me, and we'll go over this little matter,
Major."

General Crandall held open a small door at the left of his desk and
followed Bishop through.  Lady Crandall and Jane entered the library
almost at the same time.

"This tea of George's is preposterous," the lady of Government House
was grumbling.  "Said we must have this man from Egypt here at once."

"If you were English, no tea could be preposterous," Jane countered,
with a brave attempt at lightness.  She felt each passing moment a
weight adding to the suspense of the inevitable event.

"Well, I'm going to get it through with just as soon as I can," Lady
Crandall snapped.  Then Jaimihr Khan threw open the double doors and
announced: "Cap-tain Wood-house, my lady!"

"Show him up!" she commanded; then in complaint to Jane: "Now where do
you suppose that husband of mine went?  Just like him to suggest a tea
and forget to make an appearance."

Captain Woodhouse appeared between the opened doors in khaki and trim
puttees.  He stood very straight for an instant, his eyes shooting
rapidly about the room.  Lady Crandall hurried forward to greet him,
and his momentary stiffness disappeared.  The girl behind her followed
slowly, almost reluctantly.  Woodhouse grasped her extended hand.

"It was good of you to send the flowers," she murmured.  The man smiled
appreciation.

"Do you know," he said, "after I sent them I thought you'd consider me
a bit--prompt."

"I am learning something every day--about Englishmen," Jane managed to
answer, with a ghost of a smile.

"Always something good, I hope," Woodhouse was quick to retort, his
eyes eagerly trying to fathom the cause of the girl's restraint.

Lady Crandall, who had been vainly ringing for Jaimihr Khan, excused
herself on the necessity of looking after the tea things.  Jane
experienced a quick stab of dread at finding herself alone with this
man.  Unexpected opportunity was urging a decision which an hour of
solitude in her room had failed to bring.  Yet she trembled, appalled
and afraid to speak, before the very magnitude of the moment's
exigency.  "A spy--a spy!" whispered austere duty.  "He will die!" her
heart cried in protest.

"Miss Gerson, it's good to see you again and know by your handclasp you
have forgiven me for--for what was very necessary at the moment--last
night--our meeting in the Splendide."  Captain Woodhouse was standing
before her now, his grave eyes looking down into hers.  The girl caught
a deep note of sincerity and something else--something vibrantly
personal.  Yet her tongue would not be loosed of its burden.

"A very pretty speech," she answered, with attempted raillery.  "I
shall think of it on the boat going home."

"I say, I wish you weren't always in that horrid state of mind--on your
way home mentally," Captain Woodhouse challenged.

"I shall be so in reality day after to-morrow, I hope," she replied.
"Away from all this bewildering war and back in comfortable little New
York."  The man seemed genuinely grieved at her announcement.

"New York must be worth while; but I imagine you have nothing
picturesque--nothing old there.  I'll wager you haven't a single
converted monastery like Government House in all your city."

"Not many things in New York have been converted," she answered, with a
smile.  "Our greatest need is for a municipal evangelist."

False--all false, this banter!  She knew it to be, and so she believed
he must read it.  And the man--his ease of manner was either that of
innocence or of supreme nerve, the second not less to be admired than
the first.  Could it be that behind his serious eyes, now frankly
telling her what she dared not let herself read in them, lay duplicity
and a spy's cunning?

"I fancy you New Yorkers suffer most from newness--newness right out of
the shop," she heard him saying.  "But the old things are the best.
Imagine the monks of a long-ago yesterday toasting themselves before
this ancient fireplace."  He waved toward the massive Gothic mantel
bridging a cavernous fireplace.  An old chime bell, green with
weathering, hung on a low frame beside the firedogs.

"You're mistaken; that's manufactured antiquity," Jane caught him up.
"Lady Crandall told me last night that fireplace is just five years
old.  One of the preceding governor's hobbies, it was."

Woodhouse caught at her answer with a quick lifting of the brows.  He
turned again to feast his eyes on the girl's piquant face, even more
alluring now because of the fleeting color that left the cheeks with a
tea rose's coldness.

"Miss Gerson, something I have done or said"--the man was laboring
after words--"you are not yourself, and maybe I am respon----"

She turned from him with a slight shudder.  Her hand was extended in
mute appeal for silence.  He waited while his eyes followed the heaving
of her shoulders under the emotion that was racking her.  Suddenly she
faced him again, and words rushed from her lips in an abandon of terror:

"Captain Woodhouse, I know too much--about you and why you are here.
Oh, more than I want to!  Accident--bad luck, believe me, it is not my
seeking that I know you are a--a----"

He had started forward at her outburst, and now he stood very close to
her, his gray eyes cold and unchanging.

"Say it--say the word!  I'm not afraid to hear it," he commanded
tensely.  She drew back from him a little wildly, her hands fluttering
up as if to fend him off.

"You--you are in great danger this minute.  You were brought here this
afternoon to be trapped--exposed and made----"

"I was fully aware of that when I came, Miss Gerson," he interrupted.
"The invitation, coming so suddenly--so pressing--I think I read it
aright."

"But the promise you made me give last night!"  Sudden resentment
brushed aside for the instant the girl's first flood of sympathy.
"That has involved me with you.  Oh, that was unfair--to make me
promise I would not allude to--to our first meeting!"

"Involved you?"  He closed one of her hands in his as if to calm her
and force more rational speech.  "Then you have been----"

"Questioned by General Crandall--about you," she broke in, struggling
slightly to free her hand.  "Questioned--and even bullied and
threatened."

"And you kept your promise?"  The question was put so low Jane could
hardly catch it.  She slowly nodded.

"Miss Gerson, you will never have cause to regret that you did."
Woodhouse pressed her hand with almost fierce intenseness, then let it
go.  Her face was flaming now under the stress of excitement.  She knew
tears stood in her eyes, and was angered at their being there; he might
mistake them.  Woodhouse continued, in the same suppressed tone:

"You were on the point of using a word a minute ago, Miss Gerson, which
was hard for you to voice because you thought it an ugly word.  You
seemed sure it was the right word to fit me.  You only hesitated out
of--ah--decency.  Yet you kept faith with me before General Crandall.
May I hope that means----"

"You may hope nothing!"  Quick rebellion at what she divined to be
coming flamed in Jane's eyes.  "You have no right to hope for more from
me than what you forced by promise.  I would not be saying what I have
to you if--if I did not feel I--that your life----"

"You misunderstood," he broke in stiffly.  "I was on the point of
saying I hoped you would not always believe me a----"

"Not believe!"  Her hand went to the broad ribbon belt she wore and
brought out the silver cigarette case.  This she passed to him with a
swift gesture.

"Almer, the Hotel Splendide man, gave me this to-day at parade, urging
that I deliver it to you."  She was speaking hurriedly.  "By a
miracle--the strangest circumstance in the world--I learned the message
this cigarette case was to carry to you.  Oh, no, innocently enough on
my part--it came by a chance I must not take the time to explain."

"A message from--Almer to me?"  Woodhouse could not conceal the start
her words gave him.  He took a step toward her eagerly.

"Yes, a message.  You must have it to protect yourself.  The message
was this:


"Informer has denounced you and Louisa to----"


Her voice died in her throat.  Over Captain Woodhouse's shoulder she
saw a door open.  General Crandall and a short fat man in officer's
uniform entered the library.



CHAPTER XV

THE THIRD DEGREE

"Good afternoon, Captain Woodhouse."

General Crandall came forward and shook the captain's hand cordially.
"Miss Gerson, Major Bishop, of my staff."

Jane acknowledged the introduction.  Major Bishop advanced to the
meeting with Woodhouse expectantly.  With an air of ill-assumed ease,
the governor made them known to each other.

"Major Bishop, your new man in the signal tower, Captain Woodhouse,
from Wady Halfa.  Captain, do you happen to remember the major?  Was a
captain when you were here on the Rock--captain in the engineers."

"I'm afraid we never met," Woodhouse began easily.  "I was here such a
short time.  Expected to meet Major Bishop when I reported at his
office this morning, but he was over at the wireless station, his aid
told me."

"Right, Captain!"  Bishop chirped, shaking his subordinate's hand.
"I--ah--imagine this is the first time we've met."  He put the least
shade of emphasis on the verb.

Woodhouse met his eyes boldly.  Lady Crandall, bustling in at this
minute, directed a maid where to wheel the tea wagon, while Jane went
to assist her with the pouring.  The men soon had their cups, and the
general and major contrived to group themselves with Woodhouse sitting
between them.  Sir George, affecting a gruff geniality, launched a
question:

"Rock look familiar to you, Captain?"

"After a fashion, yes," Woodhouse answered slowly.  "Though three
months is so short a time for one to get a lasting impression."

"Nonsense!" the general reproved gustily.  "Some places you see once
you never forget.  This old Rock is one of them; eh, Bishop?"

"I don't know," the chunky little officer replied.  "The powers back
home never give me a chance to get away and forget."  There was a pause
as the men sipped their tea.  Woodhouse broke the silence:

"Man can be stationed in worse places than Gibraltar."

"If you mean Egypt, I agree with you," Crandall assented.  "There six
years."

"Were you, General?  What station?"  Woodhouse was coolly stirring his
tea, emphatically at his ease.  Jane, her back to the men as she fussed
over the tea wagon, filled her own cup with hot water inadvertently.
She tried to laugh over the mistake, but her fingers trembled as she
poured the water back into the kettle.

"Not on the lazy old Nile, as you were--lucky dog!" the general
returned.  "Out on the yellow sands--at Arkowan--a place in the sun,
never fear!"

The women had their cups now, and joined the men, sitting a little
behind.  Jane caught a shrewd sidewise glance from the general--a
glance that sought a quick and sure reading of her emotions.  She
poised her cup as if expecting a question and the glance turned aside.
But it had warned the girl that she was not altogether a passive factor
in the situation.  She set a guard over her features.

"Let me see, Captain Woodhouse"--it was little Bishop who took up the
probe--"you must have been here in the days when Craigen was
governor--saw your papers have it that you were here three months in
nineteen seven."

"Yes, Craigen was governor then," Woodhouse answered guardedly.

"You never saw him, General."  Bishop turned to Sir George.  "Big,
bluff, blustering chap, with a voice like the bull of Bashan.
Woodhouse, here, he'll recognize my portrait."

Woodhouse smiled--secret disdain for the clumsy trap was in that smile.

"I'm afraid I do not," he said.  "Craigen was considered a small,
almost a delicate, man."  He had recognized the bungling emphasis laid
by Bishop on the Craigen characteristics, and his answer was pretty
safely drawn by choosing the opposites.  Bishop looked flustered for an
instant, then admitted Woodhouse was right.  He had confused Sir David
Craigen with his predecessor, he said in excuse.

"I fancy I ought to remember the man.  I had tea in this very room with
him several times," Woodhouse ventured.  He let his eyes rove as if in
reminiscence.  "Much the same here--as--except, General Crandall, I
don't recall that fireplace."  He indicated the heavy Gothic ornament
on the opposite side of the room.

Jane caught her breath under the surge of secret elation.  The resource
of the man so to turn to advantage a fact that she had carelessly given
him in their conversation of a few moments back!  The girl saw a
flicker of surprise cross General Crandall's face.  Lady Crandall broke
in:

"You have a good memory, after all, Captain Woodhouse.  That fireplace
is just five years old."

"Um--yes, yes," her husband admitted.  "Clever piece of work, though.
Likely to deceive anybody by its show of antiquity."

General Crandall called for a second slice of lemon in his cup.  He was
obviously sparring for another opening, but was impressed by the
showing the suspected man was making.  Bishop pushed the inquisition
another step:

"Did you happen to be present, Captain, at the farewell dinner we gave
little Billy Barnes?  I think it must have been in the spring you were
here."

"There were many dinners, Major Bishop."  Woodhouse was carefully
selecting his words, and he broke his sentences with a sip from his
cup.  "Seven years is a long time, you know.  We had much else to think
about in Egypt than old dinners elsewhere."

Bishop appeared struck by an inspiration.  He clapped his cup into its
saucer with a sudden bang.

"Hang it, man, you must have been here in the days of Lady Evelyn.
Remember her, don't you?"

"Would I be likely to forget?" the captain parried.  Out of the tail of
his eye he had a flash of Jane Gerson's white face, of her eyes seeking
his with a palpitant, hunted look.  The message of her eyes brought to
him an instant of grace in sore trial.

"Seven years of Egypt--or of a hotter place--couldn't make a man forget
her!"  The major was rattling on for the benefit of those who had not
come under the spell of the charmer.  "Sir David Craigen's wife, and as
lovely a woman as ever came out from England.  Every man on the Rock
lost his heart that spring.  Woodhouse, even in three months' time you
must have fallen like the rest of us."

"I'd rather not incriminate myself."  Woodhouse smiled sagely as he
passed his cup to Lady Crandall to be refilled.

"Don't blame you," Bishop caught him up.  "A most outrageous flirt, and
there was the devil to pay.  Broken hearts were as thick on the Rock
that year as strawberries in May, including poor Craigen's.  And after
one young subaltern tried to kill himself--you'll remember that,
Woodhouse--Sir David packed the fair charmer off to England.  Then he
simply ate his heart out and--died."

"What an affecting picture!" Jane commented.  "One lone woman capturing
the garrison of Gibraltar!"

General Crandall rose to set his cup on the tea wagon.  With the most
casual air in the world, he addressed himself to Woodhouse:

"When Sir David died, many of his effects were left in this house to
await their proper owner's disposition, and Lady Craigen has
been--er--delicate about claiming them.  Among them was the portrait of
Lady Craigen herself which still hangs in this room.  Have you
recognized it, Captain?"

Woodhouse, whose mind had been leaping forward, vainly trying to divine
the object of the Lady Evelyn lead, now knew, and the knowledge left
him beyond his resources.  He recognized the moment of his unmasking.
But the man's nerve was steady, even in extremity.  He rose and turned
to face the rear wall of the library, against the tapestry of which
hung four oil portraits in their deep old frames of heavy gold.  Three
of these were of women.  A fourth, also the likeness of a woman, hung
over the fireplace.  Chances were four to one against blind choice.

As Woodhouse slowly lifted his eyes to the line of portraits, he
noticed that Jane had moved to place the broad tent shade of a floor
lamp on its tall standard of mahogany between herself and the other two
men so that her face was momentarily screened from them.  She looked
quickly at the portrait over the mantel and away again.  Woodhouse,
knowing himself the object of two pairs of hostile eyes, made his
survey deliberately, with purpose increasing the tension of the moment.
His eyes ranged the line of portraits on the rear wall, then turned to
that one over the fireplace.

"Ah, yes, a rather good likeness, eh, Major?"  He drawled his
identification with a disinterested air.

Crandall's manner underwent instant change.  His former slightly
strained punctiliousness gave way to naturalness and easy spirits.  One
would have said he was advocate for a man on trial, for whom the jury
had just pronounced, "Not proven."  Scotch verdict, yes, but one
acceptable enough to the governor of Gibraltar.  The desk telephone
sounded just then, and General Crandall answered.  After listening
briefly, he gave the orders, "Dress flags!" and hung up the receiver.

"'Fleet's just entering the harbor,' signal tower reports," he
explained to the others.  "Miss Gerson, if you care to step here to the
window you'll see something quite worth while."

Jane, light-hearted almost to the point of mild hysteria at the
noticeable relaxation of strain denoting danger passed, bounded to a
double French window giving on a balcony and commanding a view of all
the bay to the Spanish shore.  She exclaimed, in awe:

"Ships--ships!  Hundreds of them!  Why, General, what----"

"The Mediterranean fleet, young woman, bound home to protect the
Channel against the German high-seas fleet."  Deep pride was in the
governor's voice.  His eyes kindled as they fell on the distant pillars
of smoke--scores of them mounting straight up to support the blue on
their blended arches.  Captain Woodhouse could scarcely conceal the
start General Crandall's announcement gave him.  He followed the others
to the window more slowly.

"Wirelessed they'd be in ten hours ago," the governor explained to his
wife.  "Rear-admiral won't make his official call until morning,
however.  In these times he sticks by his flagship after five o'clock."

"Wonderful--wonderful!"  Bishop turned in unfeigned enthusiasm to
Woodhouse, behind him.  "There is the power--and the pride--of England.
Sort of thrills a chap, eh?"

"Rather!" Woodhouse replied.

"Well, must get down to the quay to receive any despatches that may
come ashore," the major exclaimed.  "Gad, but it gives me a little
homesick tug at the heart to see these grim old dogs of war.  They
represent that tight little island that rules the waves."

"Ah, London--London--the big, old town where they pull the strings that
make us dance!"  General Crandall, leaning against the window frame,
his eyes on the incoming fleet, voiced the chronic nostalgia of the man
in the service.

"The town for me!" Woodhouse exclaimed with fervor.  "I'm sick for the
sight of her--the sounds of her--the smells of her: the orange peel and
the asphalt and the gas coming in over Vauxhall Bridge."

Bishop turned on him admiringly.

"By George, that does hit it off, old man--no mistake!"

Jane was out on the balcony now with field glasses she had picked up
from the governor's desk.  She called back through the curtains,
summoning Woodhouse to come and pick out for her the flagship.  When he
had joined her, Bishop stepped quickly to his superior's side.

"What do you think, General?  By George, it seems to me it would need
an Englishman to give one that sniff of London this chap just got off."

"Exactly," the general caught him up crisply.  "And an Englishman's
done it--Rudyard Kipling.  Any German who can read English can read
Kipling."

"But what do you think, General?  Chap strikes me as genuine--that
portrait of Lady Evelyn clenched things, I take it."

"Confound it!  We haven't absolutely proved anything, pro or con,"
General Crandall grumbled, in perplexity.  "Thing'll have to be decided
by the Indian--what he finds, or doesn't find--in Woodhouse's room.
Let you know soon as I hear."

Bishop hurried to make his adieux to Lady Crandall and her guest, and
was starting for the doors when Woodhouse, stepping in from the
balcony, offered to join him.  The governor stopped him.

"By the way, Captain, if you'll wait for me a minute I should like your
company down the Rock."

Bishop had gone, and the general, taking Woodhouse's agreement for
granted, also left the room.

Woodhouse, suddenly thrown back on his guard, could find nothing to do
but assent.  But when Lady Crandall excused herself on the score of
having to dress for dinner, he welcomed compensation in being alone
with the girl who had gone with him steadfastly, unflinchingly, through
moments of trial.  She stood before the curtains screening the balcony,
hesitant, apparently meditating flight.  To her Woodhouse went, in his
eyes an appeal for a moment alone which would not be denied.

"You were--very kind to me," he began, his voice very low and broken.
"If it had not been--for your help, I would have----"

"I could not see you--see you grope blindly--and fail."  She turned her
head to look back through the opened glass doors to the swiftly moving
dots in the distance that represented the incoming battle fleet.

"But was there no other reason except just humanity to prompt you?"  He
had possessed himself of one of her hands now, and his eyes compelled
her to turn her own to meet their gaze.  "Once when they--were trying
to trip me, I caught a look from your eyes, and--and it was more
than--than pity."

"You are presuming too much," the girl parried faintly; but Woodhouse
would not be rebuffed.

"You must hear me," he rushed on impetuously.  "This is a strange time
for me to say this, but you say you are going--going away soon.  I may
not have another opportunity--hear me!  I am terribly in earnest when I
tell you I love you--love you beyond all believing.  No, no!  Not for
what you have done for me, but for what you are to me--beloved."

She quickly pulled her hand free from his grasp and tried to move to
the door.  He blocked her way.

"I can not have you go without a word from you," he pleaded.  "Just a
word to tell me I may----"

"How can you expect--that--I--knowing what I do----"  She was stumbling
blindly, but persisted: "You, who have deceived others, are deceiving
them now--how can I know you are not deceiving me, too?"

"I can not explain."  He dropped his head hopelessly, and his voice
seemed lifeless.  "It is a time of war.  You must accept my word that I
am honest--with you."

She slowly shook her head and started again for the double doors.
"Perhaps--when you prove that to me----."  He took an eager step toward
her.  "But, no, you can not.  I will be sailing so soon, and--and you
must forget."

"You ask the impossible!"  Woodhouse quickly seized her hand and raised
it to his lips.  As he did so, the double doors opened noiselessly and
Jaimihr Khan stood between them, sphinx-like.

Jane, startled, withdrew her hand, and without a farewell glance, ran
across the library and through the door to Lady Crandall's room.
Jaimihr Khan, with a cold glance at Woodhouse, moved silently to the
door of General Crandall's room and knocked.

"It is I--Jaimihr Khan," he answered to the muffled hail from within.
"Yes, General Sahib, I will wait."

He turned and looked toward Woodhouse.  The latter had taken a
cigarette from the case Almer had sent him through Jane, and was
turning it over in his hand curiously.  The Indian, treading like a
hunting cat, began lighting candles.  His tour of the room brought him
to the captain's side, and there he stood, motionless, until Woodhouse,
with a start, observed him.

"Cap-tain Wood-house has been most in-discreet," he said, in his
curious mechanical way of speech.

Woodhouse turned on him angrily.

"What do you mean?" he snapped.

"Is it that they have ceased to teach discretion--at the
Wilhelmstrasse?"  The Indian's face was a mask.

"I know nothing about the Wilhelmstrasse," the white man answered, in a
voice suddenly strained.

"Then it is veree, veree foolish for the captain to leave in his room
these plans."  Jaimihr Khan took from his girdle a thin roll of blue
prints--the plans of the signal tower and Room D which Almer had given
Woodhouse the night before.  He held them gingerly between slender
thumb and forefinger.

Woodhouse recoiled.

"The general sahib has sent me to search the cap-tain's room," the even
voice of Jaimihr Khan ran on.  "Behold the results of my journey!"

Woodhouse sent a lightning glance at the door leading to the governor's
room, then stepped lightly away from the Indian and regarded him with
hard calculating eyes.

"What do you propose to do--with those plans?"

"What should I do?"  The white shoulders of the Indian went up in a
shrug.  "They will stand you before a wall, Cap-tain Wood-house.  And
fire.  It is the price of in-discretion at a time like this."

Woodhouse's right hand whipped back to his holster, which hung from his
sword belt, and came forward again with a thick, short-barreled weapon
in it.

"Give me those plans, you yellow hound!"

"Shoot!"  Jaimihr Khan smiled.  "Add one in-discretion to another.
Shoot, my youthful fool!"

The door to General Crandall's room opened, and the general, in uniform
evening dress, stepped into the library.  Woodhouse swiftly slipped his
revolver behind his back, though keeping it ready for instant use.

"All ready, Captain.  Smoke."  The general extended his cigarette case
toward Woodhouse.

The latter smilingly declined, his eyes all the while on the Indian,
who stood by the corner of the general's desk.  Between the sleek brown
hands a tiny blue roll of paper was twisting into a narrower wisp under
the careless manipulation of thin fingers.

"Well, Jaimihr," Crandall briskly addressed the servant, "have you
completed the errand I sent you on?"

"Yes, General Sahib."  The brown fingers still caressed the plans of
the signal tower.

"Have you anything to report?"  The general had his cigarette in his
mouth and was pawing his desk for a match.  Jaimihr Khan slowly lifted
the tip of the paper wisp in his fingers to the flame of a candle on
the end of the desk, then held the burning tip to his master's
cigarette.

[Illustration: Jaimihr Khan held the tip to his master's cigarette.]

"Nothing, General Sahib."

"Very good.  Come, Woodhouse; sorry to have kept you waiting."  The
general started for the double doors.  Woodhouse followed.  He passed
very close to the Indian, but the latter made no sign.  His eyes were
on the burning wisp of paper between his fingers.



CHAPTER XVI

THE PENDULUM OF FATE

The next day, Thursday, was one of hectic excitement for Gibraltar.
Focus of the concentrated attention of town and Rock was the battle
fleet, clogging all the inner harbor with its great gray hulks.
Superdreadnaughts, like the standing walls of a submerged Atlantis, lay
close to the quays, barges lashed alongside the folded booms of their
torpedo nets.  Behind them, battle cruisers and scouts formed a
protecting cordon.  Far out across the entrance to the harbor, the
darting black shapes of destroyers on constant guard were shuttles
trailing their threads of smoke through the blue web of sea and sky.
Between fleet and shore snorting cockleshells of launches established
lanes of communication; khaki of the Rock's defenders and blue of the
fleet's officers met, passed, and repassed.  In wardroom and club
lounge glasses were touched in pledges to the united service.  The high
commander of the Mediterranean fleet paid his official visit to the
governor of Gibraltar, and the governor, in, turn, was received with
honors upon the quarterdeck of the flagship.  But under the superficial
courtesies of fanfare and present arms the stern business of coaling
fleet progressed at high tension.  It was necessary that all of the
fighting machines have their bunkers filled by noon of the following
day.  Every minute that the Channel up under the murky North Sea fogs
lay without full strength of her fleet protection was added danger for
England.

That morning, Captain Woodhouse went on duty in the signal tower.
Major Bishop, his superior, had summoned him to his office immediately
after breakfast and assigned him to his tasks there.  Sufficient proof,
Woodhouse assured himself, with elation, that he had come through the
fire in General Crandall's library, tested and found genuine.  Through
this pretext and that, he had been kept off duty the day before, denied
access to the slender stone tower high up on the Rock's crest which was
the motor center of Gibraltar's ganglia of defense.

The small office in which Woodhouse was installed was situated at the
very top of the tower--a room glassed on four sides like the lantern
room of a lighthouse, and provided with telescope, a telephone
switchboard, range finders, and all the complicated machinery of
gunfire control.  On one side were trestle boards supporting charts of
the ranges--figured areas representing every square yard of water from
the nearer harbor below out to the farthest reaching distance of the
monster disappearing guns.  A second graphic sheet showed the harbor
and anchorages and the entrance to the straits; this map was thickly
spotted with little, red, numbered dots--the mines.  Sown like a turnip
field with these deadly capsules of destruction were all the waters
thereabouts; their delicate tendrils led under water and through
conduits in the Rock up to this slender spire called the signal tower.
As he climbed the winding stairway to his newly assigned post,
Woodhouse had seen painted on a small wooden door just below the room
he was to occupy the single white letter "D."

Room D--where the switches were, where a single sweep of the hand could
loose all the hidden death out there in the crowded harbor--it lay
directly below his feet.

Captain Woodhouse's duties were not arduous.  He had as single
companion a sergeant of the signal service, whose post was at the
window overlooking the harbor.  The sergeant read the semaphore message
from the slender signal arm on the flagship's bridge--directions for
the coal barges' movements, businesslike orders to be transmitted to
the quartermaster in charge of the naval stores ashore, and such
humdrum of routine.  These Woodhouse recorded and forwarded to their
various destinations over the telephone.

He had much time for thought--and much to think about.

Yesterday's scene in the library of Government House--his grilling by
the two suspicious men, when a false answer on his part would have been
the first step toward a firing squad.  Yes, and what had followed
between himself and the little American--the girl who had protected and
aided him--ah, the pain of that trial was hardly less poignant than had
been the terror of the one preceding it.  She had asked him to prove to
her that he was not what she thought him.  Before another day was past
she would be out of his life and would depart, believing--yes,
convinced--that the task he had set himself to do was a dishonorable
one.  She could not know that the soldiers of the Hidden Army have
claim to heroism no less than they who join battle under the sun.  But
he was to see Jane Gerson once more; Woodhouse caught at this
circumstance as something precious.  To-night at Government House Lady
Crandall's dinner to the refugee Americans on the eve of their
departure would offer a last opportunity.  How could he turn it to the
desire of his heart?

One more incident of a crowded yesterday gave Woodhouse a crust for
rumination--the unmasking Jaimihr Khan, the Indian, had elected for
himself at that critical minute when it lay in his power to betray the
stranger in the garrison.  The captain reviewed the incident with great
satisfaction--how of a sudden the wily Indian had changed from an enemy
holding a man's life in his hand to that "friend in Government House,"
of whose existence the cautious Almer had hinted but whose identity he
had kept concealed.  Almer had said that this "friend" could lay his
hand on the combination to Room D in the signal tower when the proper
moment arrived.  Now that he knew Jaimihr Khan in his true stripe,
Woodhouse made no doubt of his ability to fulfill Almer's prophecy.

And the proper moment would be this night!  To-night, on the eve of the
great fleet's sailing, what Woodhouse had come to Gibraltar to do must
be accomplished or not at all.

The man's nerves were taut, and he rose to step to the bayward window,
there to look down on the embattled splendor of England's defense.
Steel forts ranged all in rows, awaiting but the opportunity to loose
their lightnings of obliteration against the ships of an enemy.
Cardboard ships!  Shadows of dreams!  In Room D, just below his feet, a
hand on the switches--a downward push, and then----


Lady Crandall's dinner in Government House was in full tide of
hilarity.  Under the heavy groined ceiling the spread table with its
napery and silver was the one spot of light in the long shadowed
dining-room.  Round it sat the refugees--folk who had eaten black bread
and sausage and called that a meal; who had dodged and twisted under
the careless scourge of a war beyond their understanding and
sympathies, ridden in springless carts, been bullied and hectored by
military martinets and beggared by panicky banks.  Now, with the first
glimpse of freedom already in sight and under the warming influence of
an American hostess' real American meal, they were swept off their feet
by high spirits almost childlike.  Henry J. Sherman, Kewanee's vagrant
son returning from painful pilgrimage, sat at the right of Lady
Crandall; his pink face was glowing with humor.  To Consul Reynolds,
who swore he would have to pay for thus neglecting his consulate for so
much as two hours, had fallen the honor of escorting Mrs. Sherman to
table.  Willy Kimball, polished as to shirt bosom and sleek hair, had
eyes and ears for none but the blithe Kitty.  Next to General Crandall
sat Jane Gerson, radiant in a dinner gown of tricky gauze overlaid on
silk.  At her right was Captain Woodhouse, in proper uniform dinner
coat faced with red and gold.  Of the whole company, Woodhouse alone
appeared constrained.  The girl by his side had been cool in her
greeting that evening; to his conversational sallies she had answered
with indifference, and now at table she divided her favors between
General Crandall and the perky little consul across the table.  It
seemed to Woodhouse that she purposely added a lash of cruelty to her
joy at the approaching departure on the morrow.

"Oh, you must all listen to this!" Kitty Sherman commanded the
attention of the table, with a clapping of hands.  "Go ahead, Will; he
had the funniest accident--tell them about it."

Young Kimball looked conscious and began to stammer.

"You're getting us all excited, Willy," Henry J. boomed from the
opposite side of the table.  "What happened?"

"Why--ah--really quite ridiculous, you know.  Hardly a matter
to--ah--talk about."  Willy fumbled the rose in the lapel of his jacket
and searched for words.  "You see, this morning I was thinking very
hard about what I would do when I got back to Kewanee--oh, quite
enthusiastic I am about the little town, now--and I--well, I mean to
say, I got into my bath with my wrist watch on."

Shouts of laughter added to the youth's confusion.  Sherman leaned far
across the table and advised him in a hoarse whisper:

"Buy a dollar Ingersoll, Willy.  It floats!"

"Well, you might give him one of yours, father," Kitty put in, in quick
defense.  "Anybody who'd carry two watches around----"

"Two watches?"  Lady Crandall was interested.

Henry J. beamed expansively, pulled away his napkin, and proudly lifted
from each waistcoat pocket a ponderous watch, linked by the thick chain
passing through a buttonhole.

"This one"--he raised the right-hand time-piece--"tells the time of the
place I happen to be in--changed it so often I guess the works'll never
be the same again.  But this one is my pet.  Here's Kewanee time--not
touched since we pulled out of the C., B. & Q. station on the twentieth
of last May."  He turned the face around for the others to read.  "Just
three in the afternoon there now.  Old Ed Porter's got the _Daily
Enterprise_ out on the street, and he's tilted back in his office
chair, readin' the _Chicago Tribune_ that's just got in on the two-five
train.  The boys at the bank are goin' out to the country club for
golf--young Pete Andrews wearin' the knickerbockers his wife cut down
from his old overcoat; sort of a horse-blanket pattern, you might say.
The town's just dozin' in the afternoon sun and--and not givin' a hang
whether Henry J. Sherman and family gets back or not."

"You're an old dear!" Lady Crandall bubbled.  "Some day Kewanee will
erect a statue to you."

The talk turned to art, and the man from Kewanee even had the stolid
general wiping the tears from his eyes by his description and criticism
of some of the masters his wife had trotted him around to admire.

"Willy, you'll be interested to know we got a painter in Kewanee now,"
Henry J. cried.  "'Member young Frank Coales--old Henry Coales' son?
Well, he turned out to be an artist.  Too bad, too; his folks was fine
people.  But Frank was awfully headstrong about art.  Painted a war
picture about as big as that wall there.  Couldn't find a buyer right
away, so he turned it over to Tim Burns, who keeps the saloon on Main
Street.  Been busy ever since, sorta taking it out in trade, you might
say."

Table talk was running at a gay rate when Mrs. Sherman, who had sent
frequent searching glances at Captain Woodhouse over the nodding buds
of the flower piece in the center of the board, suddenly broke out:

"Ah, Captain Woodhouse, now I remember where I've seen you before!  I
thought your face was familiar the minute I set my eyes on you this
evening."

Jaimihr Khan, who stood behind the general's chair, arms folded and
motionless, swiftly lifted one hand to his lips, but immediately
mastered himself again.  General Crandall looked up with a sharp
crinkle of interest between his eyes.  Captain Woodhouse, unperturbed,
turned to the Kewanee dowager.

"You have seen me before, Mrs. Sherman?"

"I am sure of it," the lady announced, with decision.  The other diners
were listening now.

"Indeed!  And where?"  Woodhouse was smiling polite attention.

"Why, at the Winter Garden, in Berlin--a month ago!"  Mrs. Sherman was
hugely satisfied with her identification.  She appealed to her husband
for confirmation.  "Remember, father, that gentleman I mistook for
Albert Downs, back home, that night we saw that--er--wicked
performance?"

"Can't say I do," Sherman answered tolerantly.

Woodhouse, still smiling, addressed Mrs. Sherman:

"Frightfully sorry to disappoint you, Mrs. Sherman, but I was not in
Berlin a month ago.  I came here from Egypt, where I had been several
years."  Woodhouse heard Jane at his elbow catch her breath.

"See, mother, there you go on your old hobby of recognizin' folks,"
Sherman chided.  Then, to the others: "Why, she's seen all Kewanee
since she came here to Europe.  Even got a glimpse of the Methodist
minister at Monte Carlo."

"I have never been in Berlin in my life, Mrs. Sherman," Woodhouse was
adding.  "So, of course----"

"Well, I suppose I am wrong," the lady admitted.  "But still I could
swear."

The governor, who had kept a cold eye on his subordinate during this
colloquy, now caught Woodhouse's glance.  The captain smiled frankly.

"Another such unexpected identification, General, and you'll have me in
the cells as a spy, I dare say," he remarked.

"Quite likely," Crandall answered shortly, and took up his fork again.
A maid stepped to Lady Crandall's chair at this juncture and whispered
something.  The latter spoke to Woodhouse:

"You're wanted on the telephone in the library, Captain.  Very
important, so the importunate person at the other end of the wire
informs the maid."

Woodhouse looked his confusion.

"Probably that silly ass at the quay who lost a bag of mine when I
landed," he apologized, as he rose.  "If you'll pardon me----"

Woodhouse passed up the stairs and into the library.  He was surprised
to find Jaimihr Khan standing by the telephone, his hand just in the
act of setting the receiver back on the hook.  The Indian stepped
swiftly to the double doors and shut them behind the captain.

"A thousand pardons, Cap-tain"--he spoke hurriedly--"the cap-tain will
stand near the telephone.  They may come from the dining-room at any
minute."

"What is all this?" Woodhouse began.  "I was called on the telephone."

"A call I had inspired, Cap-tain.  It was necessary to see you--at once
and alone."

"Tactless!  With the general suspecting me--you heard what that woman
from America said at the table--she has eyes in her head!"

"I think he still trusts you, Cap-tain," the Indian replied.  "And
to-night we must act.  The fleet sails at noon to-morrow."

"We?"  Woodhouse was on his guard at once.  "What do you mean by 'we'?"

Jaimihr Khan smiled at the evasion.

"Yesterday in this room, Cap-tain, I burned a roll of plans----"

"Which I had good reason to wish saved," Woodhouse caught him up.

"No matter; I burned them--at a moment when you were--in great peril,
Cap-tain."

"Burned them, yes--perhaps to trap me further."

The Indian made a gesture of impatience.  "Oh, excellent discretion!"
he cried in suppressed exasperation.  "But we waste time that is
precious.  To-night----"

"Before another word is spoken, let me have your card--your
Wilhelmstrasse number," Woodhouse demanded.

"I carry no card.  I am more discreet than--some," the other answered
insinuatingly.

"No card?  Your number, then?"

Jaimihr Khan brought his lips close to the white man's ear and
whispered a number.

"Is that not correct?" he asked.

Woodhouse nodded curtly.

"And now that we are properly introduced," Jaimihr began, with a
sardonic smile, "may I venture a criticism?  Your pardon, Cap-tain; but
our critics, they help us to per-fection.  Since when have men who come
from the Wilhelmstrasse allowed themselves to make love in
drawing-rooms?"

"You mean----"

"You and the young woman from America--when I found you together here
yesterday----"

"That is my affair," was Woodhouse's hot response.

"The affair on which we work--this night--that is my affair, be veree
sure!"  There was something of menace in the Indian's tone.

Woodhouse bowed to his demand for an explanation.  "That young woman,
as it happens, must be kept on our side.  She saw me in France, when
Captain Woodhouse was supposed to be in Egypt."

"Ah, so?"  Jaimihr inclined his head with a slight gesture craving
pardon.  "For that reason you make a conquest.  I did not un-derstand."

"No matter.  The fleet sails at noon."

"And our moment is here--to-night," Jaimihr whispered in exultation.
"Not until to-day did they admit you to the tower, Cap-tain.  How is it
there?"

"A simple matter--with the combination to the door of Room D."

With a single stride the Indian was over before the door of the wall
safe.  He pointed.

"The combination of the inner door--it is in a special compartment of
that safe, protected by many wires.  Before dawn I cut the wires--and
come to you with the combination."

"At whatever hour is best for you," Woodhouse put in eagerly.

"Let us say three-thirty," Jaimihr answered.  "You will be waiting for
me at the Hotel Splendide with--our friends there.  I shall come to you
there, give you the combination, and you shall go through the lines to
the signal tower."

"There must be no slip," Woodhouse sternly warned.

"Not on my part, Cap-tain--count on that.  For five years I have been
waiting--waiting.  Five years a servant--yes, my General; no, my
General; very good, my General."  The man's voice vibrated with hate.
"To-morrow, near dawn--the English fleet shattered and ablaze in the
harbor--the water red, like blood, with the flames.  Then, by the
breath of Allah, my service ends!"

Voices sounded in the hallway outside the double doors.  Jaimihr Khan,
a finger to his lips, nodded as he whispered: "Three-thirty, at the
Splendide."  He faded like a white wraith through the door to General
Crandall's room as the double doors opened and the masculine faction of
the dinner party entered.  Woodhouse rose from a stooping position at
the telephone and faced them.  To the general, whose sharp scrutiny
stabbed like thin knives, he made plausible explanation.  The beggar
who lost his bag wanted a complete identification of it--had run it
down at Algeciras.

"I understand," Crandall grunted.

When the cigars were lit, General Crandall excused himself for a
minute, sat at his desk, and hurriedly scratched a note.  Summoning
Jaimihr, he ordered that the note be despatched by orderly direct to
Major Bishop and given to no other hands.  Woodhouse, who overheard his
superior officer's command, was filled with vague apprehension.  What
Mrs. Sherman had said at table--this hurried note to Bishop; there was
but one interpretation to give to the affair--Crandall's suspicions
were all alive again.  Yet at three-thirty--at the Hotel Splendide----

But when Crandall came back to join the circle of smokers, he was all
geniality.  The women came in by way of Jane Gerson's room; they had
been taking a farewell peek at her dazzling stock of gowns, they said,
before they were packed for the steamer.

"There was one or two I just had to see again," Mrs. Sherman explained
for the benefit of all, "before I said good-by to them.  One of them,
by Madam Paquin, father, I'm going to copy when we get home.  I'll be
the first to introduce a Paquin into little Kewanee."

"Well, don't get into trouble with the minister, mother," Henry J.
warned.  "Some of the French gowns I've seen on this trip certainly
would stir things up in Kewanee."

Jaimihr served the coffee.  Woodhouse tried to maneuver Jane into a
tête-à-tête in an angle of the massive fireplace, but she outgeneraled
him, and the observant Mrs. Sherman cornered him inexorably.

"Tell me, Captain Woodhouse," she began, in her friendly tones, "you
said a while ago the general might mistake you for a spy.  Don't you
have a great deal of trouble with spies in your army in war time?
Everybody took us for spies in Germany, and in France they thought poor
Henry was carrying bombs to blow up the Eiffel Tower."

"Perhaps I can answer that question better than Captain Woodhouse," the
general put in, rising and striding over to where Mrs. Sherman kept the
captain prisoner.  "Captain Woodhouse, you see, would not be so likely
to come in touch with those troublesome persons as one in command of a
post, like myself."  The most delicate irony barbed this speech, lost
to all but the one for whom it was meant.

"Oh, I know I'm going to hear something very exciting," Mrs. Sherman
chortled.  "Kitty, you'd better hush up Willy Kimball for a while and
come over here.  You can improve your mind better listening to the
general."

Crandall soon was the center of a group.  He began, with sober
directness.

"Well, in the matter of spies in war time, Mrs. Sherman, one is struck
by the fact of their resemblance to the plague--you never can tell when
they're going to get you or whence they came.  Now here on the Rock I
have reason to believe we have one or more spies busy this minute."

Jane Gerson, sitting where the light smote her face, drew back into the
shadow with a swift movement of protectiveness.  Woodhouse, who
balanced a dainty Satsuma coffee cup on his knee, kept his eyes on his
superior's face with a mildly interested air.

"In fact," Crandall continued evenly, "I shouldn't be surprised if
one--possibly two spies--should be arrested before the night is over.
And the point about this that will interest you ladies is that one of
these--the one whose order for arrest I have already given--is a
woman--a very clever and pretty woman, I may add, to make the story
more interesting."

"And the other, whose arrest may follow, is an accomplice of hers, I
take it, General!"  Woodhouse put the question with easy indifference.
He was stirring his coffee abstractedly.

"Not only the accomplice, but the brains for both, Captain.  A deucedly
clever person, I'm frank to admit."

"Oh, people!  Come and see the flagship, signaling to the rest of the
fleet with its funny green and red lights!"  It was Jane who had
suddenly risen and stood by the curtains screening the balcony windows.
"They look like little flowers opening and shutting."

The girl's diversion was sufficient to take interest momentarily from
General Crandall's revelation.  When all had clustered around the
windows, conversation skipped to the fleet, its power, and the men who
were ready to do battle behind its hundreds of guns.  Mrs. Sherman was
disappointed that the ships did not send up rockets.  She'd read
somewhere that ships sent up rockets, and she didn't see why these
should prove the exception.  Interruption came from Jaimihr Khan, who
bore a message for Consul Reynolds.  The fussy little man ripped open
the envelope with an air of importance.

"Ah, listen, folks!  Here we have the latest wireless from the
_Saxonia_.  'Will anchor about two--sail six.  Have all passengers
aboard by five-thirty.'"  Excited gurgles from the refugees.  "That
means," Reynolds wound up, with a flourish, "everybody at the docks by
five o'clock.  Be there myself, to see you off.  Must go now--lot of
fuss and feathers getting everybody fixed."  He paused before Jane.

"You're going home at last, young lady," he chirped.

"That depends entirely on Miss Gerson herself."  It was the general who
spoke quietly but emphatically.

Reynolds looked at him, surprised.

"Why, I understood it was all arranged----"

"I repeat, it depends entirely on Miss Gerson."

Woodhouse caught the look of fear in Jane's eyes, and, as they fell for
the instant on his, something else--appeal.  He turned his head
quickly.  Lady Crandall saved the situation.

"Oh, that's just some more of George's eternal red tape.  I'll snip it
when the time comes."

The consul's departure was the signal for the others.  They crowded
around Lady Crandall and her husband with voluble praise for the
American dinner and thanks for the courtesy they had found on the Rock.
Woodhouse, after a last despairing effort to have a word of farewell
with Jane, which she denied, turned to make his adieu to his host and
hostess.

"No hurry, Captain," Crandall caught him up.  "Expect Major Bishop in
every minute--small matter of official detail.  You and he can go down
the Rock together when he leaves."

Woodhouse's mind leaped to the meaning behind his superior's careless
words.  The hastily despatched note--that was to summon Bishop to
Government House; Crandall's speech about the two spies and the arrest
of one of them--Louisa, he meant--and now this summary order that he
wait the arrival of Bishop--would the second arrest be here in this
room?  The man who carried a number from the Wilhelmstrasse felt the
walls of the library slowly closing in to crush him; he could almost
hear the whisper and mutter of the inexorable machine moving them
closer--closer.  Be alone with the man whose word could send bullets
into his heart!

"A very pleasant dinner--Lady Crandall's," Woodhouse began, eager to
lighten the tenseness of the situation.

"Yes, it seemed so."  Crandall offered the younger man his cigarette
case, and, lighting a smoke himself, straddled the hearth, his eyes
keenly observant of Woodhouse's face.

"Rather odd, Americans.  But jolly nice."  The captain laughed in
reminiscence of the unspoiled Shermans.

"I thought so--I married one," Crandall retorted.

The ear of Woodhouse's mind could hear more plainly now the grinding of
the cogs; the immutable power of fate lay there.

"Oh--er--so you did.  Very kind she has been to me.  I got very little
of this sort of thing at Wady Halfa."

"By the way, Woodhouse"--Crandall blew a contemplative puff toward the
ceiling--"strange Mrs. Sherman should have thought she saw you at
Berlin."

"Odd mistake, to be sure," Woodhouse admitted, struggling to put ease
into his voice.  "The lady seems to have a penchant, as her husband
says, for finding familiar faces."

"Major Bishop!"  Jaimihr Khan announced at the double doors.  The major
in person followed immediately.  His greeting to Woodhouse was
constrained.

"Woodhouse will wait for you to go down the Rock with him," Crandall
explained to the newcomer.  "Captain, excuse us for a minute, while we
go into my room and run over a little matter of fleet supplies.  Must
check up with the fleet before it sails in the morning."  Woodhouse
bowed his acquiescence and saw the door to the general's room close
behind the twain.

He was not long alone.  Noiselessly the double doors opened and Jaimihr
Khan entered.  Woodhouse sprang to meet him where he stood poised for
flight just inside the doors.

"The woman's prattle of Berlin----" the Indian whispered.

"Yes, the general's suspicions are all aroused again."

"Listen!  I saw the note he sent to Bishop.  The major is to be set to
watch you to-night--all night.  A false step and you will be under
arrest."  Jaimihr's thin face was twisted in wrath.  "One man's life
will not stand in our way now."

"No," Woodhouse affirmed.

"Success is veree near.  When Bishop goes with you down the Rock----"

"Yes, yes!  What?"

"The pistol screams, but the knife is dumb.  Quick, Cap-tain!"  With a
swift movement of his hand the Indian passed a thin-bladed dirk to the
white man.  The latter secreted the sheathed weapon in a pocket of his
dinner jacket.  He nodded understanding.

"One man's life--nothing!" Jaimihr breathed.

"It shall be done," Woodhouse whispered.

Jaimihr faded through the double doors like a spirit in a medium's
cabinet.  He had seen what the captain was slower to notice.  The door
from Jane Gerson's room was opening.  The girl stepped swiftly into the
room, and was by Woodhouse's side almost before he had seen her.

"I could not--go away--without--without----"

"Miss Gerson--Jane!"  He was beside her instantly.  His hand sought and
found one of hers and held it a willing prisoner.  She was trembling,
and her eyes were deep pools, riffled by conflicting currents.  Her
words came breathlessly:

"I was not myself--I tried to tell myself you were deceiving me
just--just as a part of this terrible mystery you are involved in.  But
when I heard General Crandall tell you to wait--that and what he said
about the spies--I knew you were again in peril, and--and----"

"And you have come to me to tell me as good-by you believe I am honest
and that you care--a little?"  Woodhouse's voice trembled with
yearning.  "When you think me in danger, then you forget doubts and
maybe--your heart----"

"Oh, I want to believe--I want to!" she whispered passionately.  "Every
one here is against you.  Tell me you are on the level--with me, at
least."

"I am--with you."

"I--believe," she sighed, and her head fell near his shoulder--so near
that with alacrity Captain Woodhouse settled it there.

"When this war is over, if I am alive," he was saying rapturously, "may
I come to America for you?  Will you--wait?"

"Perhaps."

The door to General Crandall's room opened.  They sprang apart just as
Crandall and Bishop entered the library.  The former was not blind to
the situation; he darted a swift glance into the girl's face and read
much there.

"Ready, Captain?" Bishop chirped, affecting not to notice the momentary
confusion of the man and the girl.

Woodhouse gave Jane's hand a lingering clasp; mutely his eyes adjured
her to remember her plighted troth.  In another minute he was gone.

The general and his guest were alone.  Jane Gerson was bidding him good
night when he interrupted, somewhat gruffly:

"Well, young woman, have you made up your mind?  Do you sail in the
morning--or not?"

"I made up my mind to that long ago," she answered briskly.  "Of course
I sail."

"Then you're going to tell me what I want to know.  Sensible girl!"  He
rubbed his hands in satisfaction.

"What is it you want to know, General Crandall?"  This almost
carelessly from her.

"When did you meet Woodhouse before--and where?"

"How do you know I met him before?"  She attempted to parry, but
Crandall cut her short with a gesture of impatience:

"Please don't try that tack again.  Answer those two questions, and you
sail in the morning."

Jane Gerson's eyes grew hard, and she lifted her chin in defiance.

"And if I refuse----"

"Why should you?"  Crandall affected surprise not altogether unfelt.

"No matter--I do!"  The challenge came crisp and sharp-cut as a new
blade.  Gibraltar's governor lost his temper instanter; his face
purpled.

"And I know why!" he rasped.  "He's got round you--made love to
you--tricked you!  I'd swear he was kissing you just the minute I came
in here.  The German cad!  Good lord, girl; can't you see how he's
using you?"

"I'm afraid I can't."

Crandall advanced toward her, shaking a menacing finger at her.

"Let me tell you something, young woman: he's at the end of his rope.
Done for!  No use for you to stand up for him longer.  He's under guard
to-night, and a woman named Josepha, his accomplice--or maybe his
dupe--is already under arrest, and to-morrow, when we examine her,
she'll reveal his whole rotten schemes or have to stand against a wall
with him.  Come, now!  Throw him over.  Don't risk your job, as you
call it, for a German spy who's tricked you--made a fool of you.
Why----"

"General Crandall!"  Her face was white, and her eyes glowed with anger.

"I--I beg your pardon, Miss Gerson," he mumbled.  "I am exasperated.  A
fine girl like you--to throw away all your hopes and ambitions for a
spy--and a bounder!  Can't you see you're wrong?"

"General Crandall, some time--I hope it will be soon--you will
apologize to me--and to Captain Woodhouse--for what you are saying
to-night."  Her hands clenched into fists, whereon the knuckles showed
white; the poise of her head, held a little forward, was all combative.

"Then you won't tell me what I want to know?"  He could not but read
the defiance in the girl's pose.

"I will tell you nothing but good-by."

"No, by gad--you won't!  I can be stubborn, too.  You shan't sail on
the _Saxonia_ in the morning.  Understand?"

"Oh, shan't I?  Who will dare stop me?"

"I will, Miss Gerson.  I have plenty of right--and the power, too."

"I'll ask you to tell that to my consul--on the dock at five to-morrow
morning.  Until then, General Crandall, au revoir."

The door of the guest room shut with a spiteful slam upon the master of
Gibraltar, leaving him to nurse a grievance on the knees of wrath.



CHAPTER XVII

THREE-THIRTY A.M.

Joseph Almer and Captain Woodhouse sat in the darkened and heavily
blinded office-reception room of the Hotel Splendide.  All the hotel
had long since been put to bed, and the silence in the rambling house
was audible.  The hands of the Dutch clock on the wall were pointing to
the hour of three-thirty.

Strain was on both the men.  They spoke in monosyllables, and only
occasionally.  Almer's hand went out from time to time to lift a squat
bottle of brandy from the table between them and pour a tiny glass
brimful; he quaffed with a sucking noise.  Woodhouse did not drink.

"It is three-thirty," the latter fretted, with an eye on the mottled
clock dial.

"He will come," Almer assured.  A long pause.

"This man Jaimihr--he is thoroughly dependable?"  The man in uniform
put the question with petulant bruskness.

"It is his passion--what we are to do to-night--something he has lived
for--his religion.  Nothing except judgment day could----  Hah!"

The sharp chirp of a telephone bell, a dagger of sound in the silence,
broke Almer's speech.  He bounded to his feet; but not so quickly as
Woodhouse, who was across the room in a single stride and had the
receiver to his ear.

"Well, well!  Yes, this is the one you name."  Woodhouse turned to
Almer, and his lips framed the word Jaimihr.  "Yes, yes; all is
well--and waiting.  Bishop?  He is beyond interference--coming down the
Rock--I did the work silently.  What's that?"  Woodhouse's face was
tensed in strain; his right hand went to a breast pocket and brought
out a pencil.  With it he began making memoranda on the face of a
calendar by his side.

"Seven turns--ah, yes--four to the left--correct."  His writing hand
was moving swiftly.  "Press, one to the right.  Good!  I have it, and
am off at once.  Good-by!"

Woodhouse finished a line of script on the calendar face, hung up the
receiver.  He carefully tore the written notes from the calendar and
put them into his pocket.

"Jaimihr says he has work to do at Government House and can not come
down."  Woodhouse turned to Almer and explained in rapid sentences.
"But he's given me the combination--to Room D--over the wire, and now
I'm off!"

Almer was all excitement now.  He hovered lovingly about Woodhouse,
patting him on the shoulder, giving him his helmet, mothering him with
little cooing noises.

"Speed quickly, Nineteen Thirty-two!  Up the Rock to the signal tower,
Nineteen Thirty-two, to do the deed that will boom around the world.
The switches--one pull, my brother, and the fatherland is saved to
triumph over her enemies, victorious!"

"Right, Almer!"  Woodhouse was moving toward the door.  "In eight
minutes history will be made.  The minute you hear the blast, start for
Spain.  I will try to escape, but I doubt----"

A knock came at the barred front door--one knock, followed by three.
Both men were transfixed.  Almer, first to recover his calmness,
motioned Woodhouse through the door to the dining-room.  When his
companion had disappeared, he stepped to the door and cautiously asked:
"Who knocks?"

An answer came that caused him to shoot back the bolts and thrust out
his head.  A message was hurriedly whispered into his ear.  The
Splendide's proprietor withdrew his head and slipped the bolt home
again.  His face was a thundercloud as he summoned Woodhouse; his
breath came in wheezy gasps.

"My Arab boy comes to the door just now to tell me of Louisa's fate;
she has been arrested," he said.

"Come, Almer!  I am going to the signal tower--there is still time for
us to strike."

Out on to Waterport Street leaped Woodhouse, and the door closed behind
him.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE TRAP IS SPRUNG

Jane Gerson, tossing on her pillows, heard the mellow bell of a clock
somewhere in the dark and silent house strike three.  This was the
fifth time she had counted the measured strokes of that bell as she
lay, wide-eyed, in the guest chamber's canopied bed.  An eternity had
passed since the dinner guests' departure.  Her mind was racing like
some engine gone wild, and sleep was impossible.  Over and over again
she had conned the events of the evening, always to come at the end
against the impasse of General Crandall's blunt denial: "You shan't
sail in the morning."  In her extremity she had even considered flight
by stealth--the scaling of walls perhaps, and a groping through dark
streets to the wharf, there to smuggle herself somehow on a tender and
so gain the _Saxonia_.  But her precious gowns!  They still reposed in
their bulky hampers here in Government House; to escape and leave them
behind would be worse than futile.  The governor's fiat seemed absolute.

Urged by the impulse of sheer necessity to be doing something--the bed
had become a rack--the girl rose, lit a taper, and began to dress
herself, moving noiselessly.  She even packed her traveling bag to the
last inch and locked it.  Then she sat on the edge of the bed, hands
helplessly folded in her lap.  What to do next?  Was she any better off
dressed than thrashing in the bed?  Her yearning called up a picture of
the _Saxonia_, which must ere this be at her anchorage, since the
consul said she was due at two.  In three short hours tenders would
puff alongside; a happy procession of refugees climb the gangway--among
them the Shermans and Willy Kimball, bound for their Kewanee; the
captain on the bridge would give an order; winches would puff, the
anchor heave from the mud, the big boat's prow slowly turn
westward--oceanward--toward New York!  And she, a prisoner caught by
the mischance of war's great mystery, would have to watch that
diminishing column of smoke fade against the morning's blue--disappear.

Inspiration seized her.  It would be something just to see the
_Saxonia_, now lying amid the grim monsters of the war fleet.  From the
balcony of the library, just outside the door of her room, she could
search the darkness of the harbor for the prickly rows of lights
marking the merchant ship from her darker neighbors.  The general's
marine glasses lay on his desk, she remembered.  To steal out to the
balcony, sweep the harbor with the glasses, and at last hit on the ship
of deliverance--for all but her; to do this would be better than
counting the hours alone.  She softly opened the door of her room.
Beyond lay the dim distances of the library, suddenly become vast as an
amphitheater; in the thin light filtering through the curtains
screening the balcony appeared the lumpy masses of furniture and vague
outlines of walls and doors.  She closed the door behind her, and stood
trembling; this was somehow like burglary, she felt--at least it had
the thrill of burglary.

The girl tiptoed around a high-backed chair, groped her way to the
general's desk, and fumbled there.  Her hand fell upon the double tubes
of the binoculars.  She picked them up, parted the curtains, and
stepped through the opened glass doors to the balcony.  Not a sound
anywhere but the faint cluck and cackle of cargo hoists down in the
harbor.  Jane put the glasses to her eyes, and began to sweep the
light-pointed vista below the cliff.  Scores of pin-prick beams of
radiance marked the fleet where it choked the roadstead--red and white
beetles' eyes in the dark.  She swung the glasses nearer shore.  Ah,
there lay the _Saxonia_, with her three rows of glowing portholes near
the water; the binoculars even picked out the double column of smoke
from her stacks.  Three brief hours and that mass of shadow would be
moving--moving----

A noise, very slight, came from the library behind the opened doors.
The marine glasses remained poised in the girl's hands while she
listened.  Again the noise--a faint metallic click.

She hardly breathed.  Turning ever so slowly, she put one hand between
the curtains and parted them so that she could look through into the
cavernous gloom behind her.

A light moved there--a clear round eye of light.  Behind it was the
faintest suggestion of a figure at the double doors--just a blur of
white, it was; but it moved stealthily, swiftly.  She heard a key turn
in a lock.  Then swiftly the eye of light traveled across the library
to the door leading to General Crandall's room.  There it paused to cut
the handle of the door and keyhole beneath out of darkness.  A brown
hand slipped into the clear shaft of whiteness, put a key into the
keyhole, and softly turned it.  The same was done for the locks of Lady
Crandall's door, on the opposite side of the library, and for the one
Jane had just closed behind her--her own door.  Than the circle of
light, seeming to have an intelligence all its own, approached the
desk, flew swiftly to a drawer and there paused.  Once more the brown
hand plunged into the bore of light; the drawer was carefully opened,
and a steel-blue revolver reflected bright sparks from its barrel as it
was withdrawn.

Jane, hardly daring to breathe, and with the heavy curtains gathered
close so that only a space for her eyes was left open, watched the orb
of light, fascinated.  It groped under the desk, found a nest of
slender wires.  There was a "Snick--snick!" and the severed ends of the
wires dropped to the floor.  The burnished dial of the wall safe, set
near the double doors, was the next object to come under the restless
searching eye.  While light poured steadily upon the circular bit of
steel, delicate fingers played with it, twisting and turning this way
and that.  Then they were laid upon the handle of the safe door, and it
swung noiselessly back.  A tapering brown hand, white-sleeved, fumbled
in a small drawer, withdrew a packet of papers and selected one.

Jane stepped boldly into the room.

"Sahibah!"  The white club of the electric flash smote her full in the
face.

"What are you doing at that safe, Jaimihr Khan?" Jane spoke as steadily
as she could, though excitement had its fingers at her throat, and all
her nerves were twittering.  She heard some sharply whistled foreign
word, which might have been a curse.

"Something that concerns you not at all, Sahibah," the Indian answered,
his voice smooth as oil.  He kept the light fair on her face.

"I intend that it shall concern me," the girl answered, taking a step
forward.

"Veree, veree foolish, Sahibah!" Jaimihr whispered, and with catlike
stride he advanced to meet her.  "Veree foolish to come here at this
time."

Jane, frozen with horror at the man's approach, dodged and ran swiftly
to the fireplace, where hung the ancient vesper bell.  The flash light
followed her every move--picked out her hand as it swooped down to
seize a heavy poker standing in its rack beside the bell.

"Sahibah!  Do not strike that bell!"  The warning came sharp and cold
as frost.  Her hand was poised over the bell, the heavy stub of the
poker a very few inches away from the bell's flare.

"To strike that bell might involve in great trouble one who is veree
dear to you, Sahibah.  Let us talk this over most calmly.  Surely you
would not desire that a friend--a veree dear friend----"

"Who do you mean?" she asked sharply.

"Ah--that I leave to you to guess!" Jaimihr Khan's voice was silken.
"But certainly you know, Sahibah.  A friend the most important----"

Then she suddenly understood.  The Indian was referring to Captain
Woodhouse thus glibly.  Anger blazed in her.

"It isn't true!"

"Sahibah, I am sorry to con-tradict."  Jaimihr Khan had begun slowly to
creep toward her, his body crouching slightly as a stalking cat's.

"I'll prove it isn't true!" she cried, and brought the poker down on
the bell with a sharp blow.  Like a tocsin came its answering alarm.

"A thousand devils!"  The Indian leaped for the girl, but she evaded
him and ran to put the desk between herself and him.  He had snapped
off the torch at the clang of the bell, and now he was a pale ghost in
the gloom--fearsome.  Hissing Indian curses, he started to circle the
desk to seize her.

"Open this door!  Open it, I say!"  It was the general's voice,
sounding muffled through the panels of his door; he rattled the knob
viciously.  Jane tried to run to the door, but the Indian seized her
from behind, threw her aside, and made for the double doors.  There his
hand went to a panel in the wall, turned a light switch, and the
library was on the instant drenched with light.  Jaimihr Khan threw
before the door of the safe the bundle of papers he was clutching when
Jane discovered him and which he had gripped during the ensuing tense
moments.  Then he stepped swiftly to the general's door and unlocked it.

General Crandall, clad only in trousers and shirt, burst into the room.
His eyes leaped from the Indian to where Jane was cowering behind his
desk.

"What the devil is this?" he rasped.  Jane opened her mouth to answer,
but the Indian forestalled her:

"The sahibah, General--I found her here before your opened safe----"

"Good God!"  General Crandall's eyes blazed.  He leaped to the safe,
knelt and peered in.  "A clever job, young woman!"

Jane, completely stunned by the Indian's swift strategy, could hardly
speak.  She held up a hand, appealing for a hearing.  General Crandall
eyed her with chilling scorn, then turned to his servant.

"You have done well, Jaimihr."

"It--it isn't true!" Jane stammered.  The governor took a step toward
her almost as if under impulse to strike her, but he halted, and his
lips curled in scorn.

"By gad, working with Woodhouse all the time, eh?  And I thought you a
simple young woman he had trapped--even warned you against him not six
hours ago.  What a fool I've been!"  Jane impulsively stretched forth
her arms for the mercy of a hearing, but the man went on implacably:

"I said he was making a fool of you--and all the time you were making
one of me.  Clever young woman.  I say, that must have been a great
joke for you--making a fool of the governor of Gibraltar.  You make me
ashamed of myself.  And my servant--Jaimihr here; it is left to him to
trap you while I am blind.  Bah!  Jaimihr, my orderly--at once!"  The
Indian smiled sedately and started for the double doors.  Jane ran
toward the general with a sharp cry:

"General--let me explain----"

"Explain!" He laughed shortly.  "What can you say?  You come into my
house as a friend--you betray me--you break into my safe--with
Woodhouse, whom I'd warned you against, directing your every move.
Clever--clever!  Jaimihr, do as I tell you.  My orderly at once!"

Jane threw herself between the Indian and the doors.

"One moment--before he leaves the room let me tell you he lies?  Your
Indian lies.  It was I who found him here--before that safe!"

"A poor story," the general sniffed.  "I expected better of you--after
this."

"The truth, General Crandall.  I couldn't sleep.  I came out here to
the balcony to try to make out if the _Saxonia_ was in the bay.  He
came into the room while I was behind these curtains, locked the doors,
and opened the safe."

"It won't go," the general cut in curtly.

"It's the truth--it's got to go!" she cried.

Jaimihr, at a second nod from his master, was approaching the double
doors.  Jane, leaping in front of them, pushed the Indian back.

"General Crandall, for your own sake--don't let this Indian leave the
room.  You may regret it--all the rest of your life.  He still has a
paper--a little paper--he took from that safe.  I saw him stick it in
his sash."

"Nonsense!"

"Search him!"  The girl's voice cracked in hysteria; her face was dead
white, with hectic burning spots in each cheek.  "I'm not pleading for
myself now--for you.  Search him before he leaves this room!"

Jaimihr put strong hands on her arms to force her away from the door.
His black eyes were laughing down into hers.

"Let me ask him a question first, General Crandall--before he leaves
this room."

The governor's face reflected momentary surprise at this change of
tack.  "Quickly then," he gruffly conceded.  Jaimihr Khan stepped back
a pace, his eyes meeting the girl's coldly.

"How did you come into the room--when you found me here?" she
challenged.  The Indian pointed to the double doors over her shoulder.
She reached behind her, grasped the knob, and shook it.  "Locked!" she
announced.

"Why not?" Jaimihr asked.  "I locked them after me."

"And the general's door was locked?"

"Yes--yes!" Crandall broke in impatiently.  "What's this got to do
with----"

"Did you lock the general's door?" she questioned the Indian.

"No, Sahibah; you did."

"And I suppose I locked the door to Lady Crandall's room and my door?"

"If they, too, are locked--yes, Sahibah."

"Then why"--Jane's voice quavered almost to a shriek--"why had I failed
to lock the double doors--the doors through which you came?"

The Indian caught his breath, and darted a look at the general.  The
latter, eying him keenly, stepped to his desk and pressed a button.

"Very good; remain here, Jaimihr," he said.  Then to Jane: "I will have
him searched, as you wish.  Then both of you go to the cells until I
sift this thing to the bottom."

"General!  You wouldn't dare!"  She stood aghast.

"Wouldn't I, though?  We'll see whether--"  A sharp click sent his head
jerking around to the right.  Jaimihr Khan, at the door to the
general's room, was just slipping the key into his girdle, after having
turned the lock.  His thin face was crinkled like old sheepskin.

"What the devil are you doing?" Crandall exploded.

"If the general sahib is waiting for that bell to be answered--he need
not wait longer--it will not be answered," Jaimihr Khan purred.

"What's this--what's this!"

"The wires are cut."

"Cut!  Who did that?"  The general started for the yellow man.  Jaimihr
Khan whipped a blue-barreled revolver out of his broad sash and leveled
it at his master.

"Back, General Sahib!  I cut them.  The sahibah's story is true.  It
was she who came in and found me at the safe."

"My God!  You, Jaimihr--you a spy!"  The general collapsed weakly into
a chair by the desk.

"Some might call me that, my General."  Jaimihr's weapon was slowly
swinging to cover both the seated man and the girl by the doors.  "No
need to search that drawer, General Sahib.  Your pistol is pointing at
you this minute."

"You'll pay for this!" Crandall gasped.

"That may be.  One thing I ask you to remember.  If one of you makes a
move I will kill you both.  You are a gallant man, my General; is it
not so?  Then remember."

Crandall started from his chair, but the uselessness of his bare hands
against the snub-nosed thing of blue metal covering him struck home.
He sank back with a groan.  Keeping them both carefully covered,
Jaimihr moved to the desk telephone at the general's elbow.  He took
from his sash a small piece of paper--the one he had saved from the
packet of papers taken from the safe--laid it on the edge of the desk,
and with his left hand he picked up the telephone.  An instant of tense
silence, broken by the wheezing of the general's breath, then----

"Nine-two-six, if you please.  Yes--yes, who is this?  Ah, yes.  It is
I, Jaimihr Khan.  Is all well with you?  Good!  And Bishop?  Slain
coming down the Rock--good also!"

Crandall groaned.  The Indian continued his conversation unperturbed.

"Veree good!  Listen closely.  I can not come as I have promised.
There is--work--for me here.  But all will be well.  Take down what I
shall tell you."  He read from the slip of paper on the desk.  "Seven
turns to the right, four to the left--press!  Two more to the
left--press!  One to the right.  You have that?  Allah speed you.  Go
quickly!"

[Illustration: "There is--work--for me here."]

"Room D!"  Crandall had leaped from his chair.

"Correct, my General--Room D."  Jaimihr smiled as he stepped away from
the telephone, his back against the double doors.  The sweat stood
white on Crandall's brow; his mouth worked in jerky spasms.

"What--what have you done?" he gasped.

"I see the general knows too well," came the Indian's silken response.
"I have given the combination of the inner door of Room D in the signal
tower to a--friend.  He is on his way to the tower.  He will be
admitted--one of the few men on the Rock who could be admitted at this
hour, my General.  One pull of the switches in Room D--and where will
England's great fleet be then?"

"You yellow devil!"  Crandall started to rush the white figure by the
doors, but his flesh quailed as the round cold muzzle met it.  He
staggered back.

"We are going to wait, my General--and you, American Sahibah, who have
pushed your way into this affair.  We are going to wait--and
listen--listen."

The general writhed in agony.  Jane, fallen into a chair by the far
edge of the desk, had her head buried in her arms, and was sobbing.

"And we are going to think, my General," the Indian's voice purled on.
"While we wait we shall think.  Who will General Crandall be after
to-night--the English sahib who ruled the Rock the night the English
fleet was blown to hell from inside the fortress?  How many widows will
curse when they hear his name?  What----"

"Jaimihr Khan, what have I ever done to you!"  The governor's voice
sounded hardly human.  His face was blotched and purple.

"Not what you have done, my General--what the English army has done.
An old score, General--thirty years old.  My father--he was a prince in
India--until this English army took away his throne to give it to a
lying brother.  The army--the English army--murdered my father when he
tried to get it back--called it mutiny.  Ah, yes, an old score; but by
the breath of Allah, to-night shall see it paid!"

The man's eyes were glittering points of white-hot steel.  All of his
thin white teeth showed like a hound's.

"You dog!"  The general feebly wagged his head at the Indian.

"Your dog, my General.  Five years your dog, when I might have been a
prince.  My friend goes up the Rock--step--step--step.  Closer--closer
to the tower, my General.  And Major Bishop--where is he?  Ah, a knife
is swift and makes no noise----"

"What a fool I've been!"  Crandall rocked in his chair, and passed a
trembling hand before his eyes.  Sudden rage turned his bloodshot eyes
to where the girl was stretched, sobbing, across the desk.  "Your
man--the man you protected--it is he who goes to the signal tower,
girl!"

"No--no; it can't be," she whispered between the rackings of her throat.

"It is!  Only a member of the signal service could gain admittance into
the tower to-night.  Besides--who was it went with Bishop down the Rock
after the dinner to-night?  And I--I sent Bishop with him--sent him to
his death.  He was tricking you all the time.  I told you he was.  I
warned you he was playing with you--using you for his own rotten
ends--using you to help kill forty thousand men!"

It needed not the sledge-hammer blows of the stricken Crandall to
batter Jane Gerson's heart.  She had read too clearly the full story
Jaimihr Khan's sketchy comments had outlined.  She knew now Captain
Woodhouse, spy.  The Indian was talking again, his words dropping as
molten metal upon their raw souls.

"Forty thousand men!  A pleasant thought, my General.  Eight minutes up
the Rock to the tower when one moves fast.  And my friend--ah, he moves
veree--veree fast.  Eight minutes, and four have already passed.  Watch
the windows--the windows looking out to the bay, General and Sahibah.
They will flame--like blood.  Your hearts will stop at the great noise,
and then----"

A knock sounded at the double doors behind Jaimihr.  He stopped short,
startled.  All listened.  Again came the knock.  Without turning his
eyes from the two he guarded, Jaimihr asked: "Who is it?"

"Woodhouse," came the answer.

Jane's heart stopped.  Crandall sat frozen in his seat.  Jaimihr turned
the key in the lock, and the doors opened.  In stepped Captain
Woodhouse, helmeted, armed with sword and revolver at waist.  He stood
facing the trio, his swift eye taking in the situation at once.
Crandall half rose from his seat, his face apoplectic.

"Spy!  Secret killer of men!" he gasped.

Woodhouse paid no heed to him, but turned to Jaimihr.

"Quick!  The combination," he said.  "Over the phone--afraid I might
not have it right--stopped here on my way to the tower--be there in
less than three minutes if you can hold these people."

"Everything is all right?" Jaimihr asked suspiciously.

"You mean Bishop?  Yes.  Quick, the combination!"

Jaimihr picked the slip of paper containing the formula from the edge
of the desk with his disengaged left hand and passed it to Woodhouse.

The latter stretched out his hand, grasped the Indian's with a
lightning move, and threw it over so that the latter was off his
balance.  In a twinkling Woodhouse's left hand had wrenched the
revolver from Jaimihr's right and pinioned it behind his back.  The
whole movement was accomplished in half a breath.  Jaimihr Khan knelt
in agony, and in peril of a broken wrist, at the white man's feet,
disarmed, harmless.  Woodhouse put a silver whistle to his lips and
blew three short blasts.

A tramp of feet in the hallway outside, and four soldiers with guns
filled the doorway.

"Take this man!" Woodhouse commanded.

The Indian, in a frenzy, writhed and shrieked:

"Traitor!  English spy!  Dog of an unbeliever!"

The soldiers jerked him to his feet and dragged him out; his ravings
died away in the passage.

Woodhouse brought his hand up in a salute as he faced General Crandall.

"The other spy, Almer, of the Hotel Splendide, has just been arrested,
sir.  Major Bishop has taken charge of him and has lodged him in the
cells."

A high-pitched scream sounded behind Lady Crandall's door, and a
pounding on the panels.  Jane Gerson, first to recover from the shock
of surprise, ran to unlock the door.  Lady Crandall, in a dressing
gown, burst into the library and flung herself on her husband.

"George--George!  What does all this mean--yells--whistling----"

General Crandall gave his wife a pat on the shoulder and put her aside
with a mechanical gesture.  He took a step toward Woodhouse, who still
stood stiffly before the opened doors; the dazed governor walked like a
somnambulist.

"Who--who the devil are you, sir?" he managed to splutter.

"I am Captain Cavendish, General."  Again the hand came to stiff salute
on the visor of the pith helmet.  "Captain Cavendish, of the signal
service, stationed at Khartum, but lately detached for special service
under the intelligence office in Downing Street."

The man's eyes jumped for an instant to seek Jane Gerson's face--found
a smile breaking through the lines of doubt there.

"Your papers to prove your identity!" Crandall demanded, still in a fog
of bewilderment.

"I haven't any, General Crandall," the other replied, with a faint
smile, "or your Indian, Jaimihr Khan, would have placed them in your
hands after the search of my room yesterday.  I've convinced Major
Bishop of my genuineness, however--after we left your house and when
the moment for action arrived.  A cable to Sir Ludlow-Service, in the
Downing Street office, will confirm my story.  Meanwhile I am willing
to go under arrest if you think best."

"But--but I don't understand, Captain--er--Cavendish.  You posed as a
German--as an Englishman."

"Briefly, General, a girl secretly in the pay of the Downing Street
office--Louisa Schmidt,--Josepha, the cigar girl, whom you ordered
locked up a few hours ago--is the English representative in the
Wilhelmstrasse at Berlin.  She learned of a plan to get a German spy in
your signal tower a month before war was declared, reported it to
London, and I was summoned from Khartum to London to play the part of
the German spy.  At Berlin, where she had gone from your own town of
Gibraltar to meet me, she arranged to procure me a number in the
Wilhelmstrasse through the agency of a dupe named Capper----"

"Capper!  Good Lord!" Crandall stammered.

"With the number I hurried to Alexandria.  Woodhouse--Captain
Woodhouse, from Wady Halfa--a victim, poor chap, to the necessities of
our plan, fell into the hands of the Wilhelmstrasse men there, and I
gained possession of his papers.  The Germans started him in a robber
caravan of Bedouins for the desert, but I provided against his getting
far before being rescued, and the German agents there were all rounded
up the day I sailed as Woodhouse."

"And you came here to save Gibraltar--and the fleet from German spies?"
Crandall put the question dazedly.

"There were only two, General--Almer and your servant, Jaimihr.  We
have them now.  You may order the release of Louisa Schmidt."

"The captain has overlooked one other--the most dangerous one of all,
General Crandall."  Jane stepped up to where the governor stood and
threw back her hands with an air of submission.  "Her name is Jane
Gerson, of New York, and she knew all along that this gentleman was
deceiving you--she had met him, in fact, three weeks before on a
railroad train in France."

The startled eyes of Gibraltar's master looked first at the set
features of the man, then to the girl's flushed face.  Little lines of
humor crinkled about the corners of his mouth.

"Captain Cavendish--or Woodhouse, make this girl a prisoner--your
prisoner, sir!"

[Illustration: "Your prisoner, sir."]



CHAPTER XIX

AT THE QUAY

Five o'clock at the quay, and already the new day was being made
raucous by the bustle of departure--shouts of porters, tenders'
jangling engine bells, thump of trunks dropped down skidways,
lamentations of voyagers vainly hunting baggage mislaid.  Out in the
stream the _Saxonia_--a clean white ship, veritable ark of refuge for
pious Americans escaping the deluge.

In the midst of a group of his countrymen Henry J. Sherman stood, feet
wide apart and straw hat cocked back over his bald spot.  He was
narrating the breathless incidents of the night's dark hour:

"Yes, sir, a soldier comes to our rooms about three-thirty o'clock and
hammers on our door.  'Everybody in this hotel's under arrest,' he
says.  'Kindly dress as soon as possible and report to Major Bishop in
the office.'  And we not five hours before the guests of General and
Lady Crandall at Government House.  What d'you think of that for a
quick change?

"Well, gentlemen, we piled down-stairs--with me minus a collar button
and havin' to hold my collar down behind with my hand.  And what do we
find?  This chap Almer, with a face like a side of cream cheese,
standing in the middle of a bunch of soldiers with guns; another bunch
of soldiers surroundin' his Arab boy, who's as innocent a little fellah
as ever you set eyes on; and this Major Bishop walkin' up and down, all
excited, and sayin' something about somebody's got a scheme to blow up
the whole fleet out there.  Which might have been done, he says, if it
wasn't for that fellah Woodhouse we'd had dinner with just that very
evening."

"Who's some sort of a spy.  I knew it all the time, you see."  Mrs.
Sherman was quick to claim her share of her fellow tourists' attention.
"Only he's a British spy set to watch the Germans.  Major Bishop told
me that in confidence after it was all over--said he'd never met a man
with the nerve this Captain Woodhouse has."

"Better whisper that word 'spy' soft," Henry J. admonished sotto voce.
"We're not out of this plagued Europe yet, and we've had about all the
excitement we can stand; don't want anybody to arrest us again just the
minute we're sailin'.  But, as I was sayin', there we all stood,
foolish as goats, until in comes General Crandall, followed by this
Woodhouse chap.  'Excuse me, people, for causing you this little
inconvenience,' the general says.  'Major Bishop has taken his orders
too literal.  If you'll go back to your rooms and finish dressin' I'll
have the army bus down here to take you to the quay.  The Hotel
Splendide's accommodations have been slightly disarranged by the arrest
of its worthy proprietor.'  So back we go, and--by cricky, mother, here
comes the general and Mrs. Crandall now!"

Henry J. broke through the ring of passengers, and with a waving of his
hat, rushed to the curb.  A limousine bearing the governor, his lady
and Jane Gerson, and with two bulky hampers strapped to the baggage
rack behind, was just drawing up.

"Why, of course we're down here to see you off--and bid you Godspeed to
little old Kewanee!"  Lady Crandall was quick to anticipate the
Shermans' greetings.  General Crandall, beaming indulgently on the
group of homegoers, had a hand for each.

"Yes--yes," he exclaimed.  "After arresting you at three o'clock we're
here to give you a clean ticket at five.  Couldn't do more than
that--what?  Regrettable occurrence and all that, but give you
something to tell the stay-at-homes about when you get back to--ah----"

"Kewanee, Illynoy, General," Sherman was quick to supply.  "No town
like it this side the pearly gates."

"No doubt of it, Sherman," Crandall heartily agreed.  "A quiet place,
I'll wager.  Think I'd relish a touch of your Kewanee after--ah--life
on Gibraltar."

Jane Gerson, who had been standing in the car, anxiously scanning the
milling crowd about the landing stage, caught sight of a white helmet
and khaki-clad shoulders pushing through the nearer fringes of
travelers.  She slipped out of the limousine unseen, and waited for the
white helmet to be doffed before her.

"I was afraid maybe----" the girl began, her cheeks suddenly flaming.

"Afraid that, after all, it wasn't true?" the man she had found in
war's vortex finished, his gray eyes compelling hers to tell him their
whole message.  "Afraid that Captain Cavendish might be as vile a
deceiver as Woodhouse?  Does Cavendish have to prove himself all over
again, little girl?"

"No--no!"  Her hands fluttered into his, and her lips were parted in a
smile.  "It's Captain Woodhouse I want to know--always; the man whose
pledged word I held to."

"It must have been--hard," he murmured.  "But you were
splendid--splendid!"

"No, I was not."  Tears came to dim her eyes, and the hands he held
trembled.  "Once--in one terrible moment this morning--when Jaimihr
told us you were going to the signal tower--when we waited--waited to
hear that awful noise, my faith failed me.  I thought you----"

"Forget that moment, Jane, dearest.  A saint would have denied faith
then."

They were silent for a minute, their hearts quailing before the
imminent separation.  He spoke:

"Go back to the States now; go back and show this Hildebrand person
you're a wonder--a prize.  Show him what I've known more and more
surely every moment since that meeting in Calais.  But give him fair
warning; he's going to lose you."

"Lose me?" she echoed.

"Inevitably.  Listen, girl!  In a year my term of service is up, and if
the war's over I shall leave the army, come to the States to you,
and--and--do you think I could become a good American?"

"If--if you have the proper teacher," the girl answered, with a flash
of mischief.

"All aboard for the _Saxonia_!"  It was Consul Reynolds, fussed,
perspiring, overwhelmed with the sense of his duty, who bustled up to
where the Shermans were chatting with Lady Crandall and the general.
Reynolds' sharp eye caught an intimate tableau on the other side of the
auto.  "And that means you, Miss Step-lively New York," he shouted,
"much as I hate to--ah--interrupt."

Jane Gerson saw her two precious hampers stemming a way through the
crowd on the backs of porters, bound for the tender's deck.  She could
not let them out of her sight.

"Wait, Jane!"  His hands were on her arms, and he would not let her go.
"Will you be my teacher?  I want no other."

"My terms are high."  She tried to smile, though trembling lips belied
her.

"I'd pay with my life," he whispered in a quick gust of passion.
"Here's my promise----"

He took her in his arms, and between them passed the world-old pledge
of man and girl.



THE END





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