The train sped over a moonlit country, spacious, unhurt by war. It moved with a steady, rhythmical throb, like an accompaniment to a tune or a phrase, ever repeated and repeated Hillyard found himself fitting words to the pulsation of the wheels. "Berlin ... Berne ... Paris ... Cerbere ... Barcelona ... Madrid ... Aranjuez and the world"; and back again, reversing the order: "Madrid ... Barcelona ... Cerbere ... Paris ... Berne ... Berlin."
But the throb of the train set the interrogation at the end of the string of names. So that the sequence of them was like a question demanding confirmation....
Towards three in the morning, when there was no movement in the corridor and the lights were blue and dim, Hillyard silently folded back his bedclothes and rose. In the darkness he groped gently for the door of the lavatory between his compartment and the compartment of the manufacturer of Perpignan. He found the handle, and pressed it down slowly; without a creak or a whine of the hinges the door swung open towards him. Through the clatter he could hear that the manufacturer of Perpignan was snoring. But Hillyard did not put his trust in snores. He crept with bare feet across the washing-room, and, easing over the handle of the further door, locked the manufacturer out. Again there had been no sound. He shut the door of his own compartment lest the swing of the train should set it banging and arouse the sleepers. Towards the corridor there was a window of painted glass, and through this window a pale, dim light filtered in. Hillyard noticed, for the first time, that a small diamond-shaped piece of the coloured glass was missing, at about the level of a man's head. It was advisable that Martin Hillyard should be quick—or he might find the tables turned. With his ears more than ever alert, he set up the steps for the upper berth, in the lavatory, and whilst he worked his eyes watched that little aperture at the level of a man's head, which once a diamond-shaped piece of coloured glass had closed....
The door of the manufacturer was unlocked, the steps folded in their place, and Hillyard back again in his bed before two minutes had passed. And once more the throb of the train beat into a chain of towns which went backwards and forwards like a shuttle in his brain. But there was no note of interrogation now.
"Berlin ... Berne ... Paris ... Cerbere ... Barcelona ... Madrid ... Aranjuez and the world"; and with a thump the train set a firm full stop to the sequence. Across the broad plain, meadowland and plough, flower-garden and fruit the train thundered down to the Pyrenees. Paris was far away now, and the sense of desolation at quitting it quite gone from Hillyard's breast.
"Berlin ... Berne ... Paris ... Cerbere ... Barcelona ... Madrid."
Here was one of the post-roads by which Germany reached the outer world. Others there were beyond doubt. Sweden and Rotterdam, Mexico and South America—but here was one, and to-morrow, nay, to-day, the communication would be cut, and Germany so much the poorer.
The train steamed into Cerbere at one o'clock of the afternoon.
"Every one must descend here, monsieur, for the examination of luggage and passports," said the attendant.
"But I am leaving France!" cried Hillyard. "I go on into Spain. Why should France, then, examine my luggage?"
"It is the war, monsieur."
Hillyard lifted up his hands in indignation too deep for words. He gathered together his bag and his coat and stick, handed them to a porter and descended. He passed into the waiting-room, and was directed by a soldier with a fixed bayonet to take his place in the queue of passengers. But he said quietly to the soldier:
"I would like to see M. de Cassaud, the Commissaire of Police."
Hillyard was led apart; his card was taken from him; he was ushered instantly into an office where an elderly French officer sat in mufti before a table. He shook Hillyard cordially by the hand.
"You pass through? I myself hope to visit Barcelona again very soon. Jean, wait outside with monsieur's baggage," this to the porter who had pushed in behind Hillyard. M. de Cassaud rose and closed the door. He had looked at Hillyard's face and acted quickly.
"It is something more than compliments you want from me, monsieur. Well, what can I do?"
"The second sleeping-car, compartments numbers 11 and 12," said Hillyard urgently. "In the water-tank of the lavatory there is a little metal case with letters from Berlin for Barcelona and Madrid. But wait, monsieur!"
M. de Cassaud was already at the door.
"It is the attendant of the sleeping-car who hides them there. If he can be called into an office quietly on some matter of routine and held there whilst your search is made, then those in Madrid and Barcelona to whom these letters are addressed may never know they have been sent at all!"
M. de Cassaud nodded and went out. Hillyard waited nervously in the little whitewashed room. It was impossible that the attendant should have taken fright and bolted. Even if he bolted, it would be impossible that he should escape across the frontier. It was impossible that he should recover the metal case from the water-tank, while the carriage stood openly at the platform of Cerbere station. He would be certain to wait until it was shunted into the cleaning shed. But so many certainties had been disproved, so many possibilities had come to pass during the last two years, that Hillyard was sceptical to his finger-tips. M. de Cassaud was a long time away. Yes, certainly M. de Cassaud was a very long——and the door opened, and M. de Cassaud appeared.
"He is giving an account of his blankets and his towels. There are two soldiers at the door. He is safe. Come!" said the Commissaire.
They crossed the platform to the carriage, whilst Hillyard described the attendant's anxiety that he should bolt his door. "No doubt he gave the same advice to the manufacturer of Perpignan," Hillyard added.
It was M. de Cassaud who arranged and mounted the steps in the tiny washing-room.
"Look, monsieur," said Hillyard, and he pointed to the little aperture in the coloured glass of the window. "One can see from the corridor what is going on in this room. That is useful. If a traveller complains—bah, it is the war!" and Hillyard laughed.
M. de Cassaud looked at the window.
"Yes, that is ingenious," he said.
He drained off the water, folded back his sleeve, and plunged his arm into the tank. Then he uttered a little cry. He drew up into the light an oblong metal can, like a sandwich-case, with the edges soldered together to make it water-tight. He slipped it into his pocket and turned again to the window. He looked at it again curiously.
"Yes, that is ingenious," he said softly, like a man speaking to himself. Then he led the way back to his office, looking in at the guard-room on the platform to give an order on the way.
The soldered edges of the case were quickly split asunder and a small package of letters written on very thin paper revealed.
"You will let me take these on with me," pleaded Martin. "You shall have them again. But some of them may want a special treatment of which we have the secret."
M. de Cassaud was doubtful about the propriety of such a procedure.
"After all I found them," Martin urged.
"It would be unusual," said M. de Cassaud. "The regulations, you know——"
Martin Hillyard smiled.
"The regulations, for you and me, my friend, are those we make ourselves."
M. de Cassaud would admit nothing so outrageous to his trained and rather formal mind. But he made a list of these letters and of their addresses as though he was undecided. He had not finished when a sergeant entered and saluted. The attendant of the sleeping-car had been taken to the depot. He had been searched and a pistol had been found upon him. The sergeant laid a very small automatic Colt upon the table and retired. M. de Cassaud took up the little weapon and examined it.
"Do you know these toys, Monsieur Hillyard?" he asked.
"Yes. They are chiefly used against the mosquitoes."
"Oh, they will kill at twenty-five paces," continued the Commissaire; and he looked quickly at Hillyard. "I will tell you something. You ran some risk last night when you explored that water-tank. Yes, indeed! It would have been so easy. The attendant had but to thrust the muzzle of this through the opening of the window, shoot you dead, raise an alarm that he had caught you hiding something, and there was he a hero and you a traitor. Yes, that is why I said to you the little opening in the window was ingenious! Ah, if he had caught you! Yes, if he had caught you!"
Martin was quick to take advantage.
"Then let me have those letters! I will keep my French colleagues informed of everything."
"Very well," said M. de Cassaud, and he suddenly swept the letters across to Hillyard, who gathered them up hastily and buttoned them away in his pocket before de Cassaud could change his mind.
"It is all very incorrect," said the Commissaire reproachfully.
"Yes, but it is the war," replied Hillyard. "I have the authority of the attendant of the sleeping-car for saying so."
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
"Now!" said Hillyard.
Fairbairn fetched a couple of white porcelain developing dishes to the table. Hillyard unlocked a drawer in his bureau. They were in the deck-saloon of the Dragonfly, steaming southwards from Valencia. Outside the open windows the brown hill-sides, the uplands of olive trees and the sun-flecked waves slipped by in a magical clear light; and the hiss of the beaded water against the ship's planks filled the cabin with a rustle as of silk. Hillyard drew a deep breath of excitement as he took out from the drawer the letters he had carried off from M. de Cassaud. He had travelled straight through Barcelona to Valencia with the letters in his pocket, picking up Fairbairn at the Estacion de Francia on the way, and now, in the sunlight and in the secrecy of the open sea, they were to appraise the value of their catch.
They sat at the table and examined them, opening the envelopes with the skill and the care which experience had taught them. For, even though this post-road was henceforth closed it might possibly be worth while to send forward these letters. One or two were apparently family letters for German soldiers, interned at Pampluna; one or two were business communications from firms in Berlin to their agents in Spain; and these seemed genuine enough.
"They may be of value to the War Trade Board," said Fairbairn; and he put them aside for dispatch to London. As he turned back Hillyard cried suddenly:
"Here we are!"
He had come to the last letter of the little heap. He was holding the envelope in front of him and he read out the address:
"Mr. Jack Williams, "Alfredo Menandez, 6, "Madrid."
Fairbairn started up, and tugging at his moustache, stared at the envelope over Hillyard's shoulder.
"By Jove!" he said. "We may have got something."
"Let us see!" returned Hillyard, and he opened the envelope.
As he spread out the letter both men laughed. The date of the month had been corrected by the writer—thus:
8 "July 27th, 1916."
[Transcriber's note: The original text has a slash through the 7.]
There was no doubt any longer in either of these two men's minds that hidden away under the commonplaces of a letter of affection was a message of grave importance.
"They are full of clever tricks in Berlin," said Hillyard cheerfully. He could afford to contemplate that cleverness with complacency, for it was now to serve his ends.
There was a German official of high importance living in the Calle Alfredo Menandez, although not at number 6 in that street. The street was a short one with very few numbers in it; and it had occurred to the German official to point out to the postman in that street that if letters came to English names in that street of which the owners could not be discovered, they were probably for the governess of his children, who had a number of English relations moving about Spain, and was accustomed to receive their letters for them, and in any case, five pesetas would be paid for each of them. Shortly after, letters had begun to arrive addressed to English nonexistent people in the quiet little Calle Alfredo Menandez, sometimes from Allied countries, sometimes from Holland, or from Port-Bou over against Cerbere in Spain; and every one of these found its natural way to the house of the German official. The choice of English names had a certain small ingenuity in that, when passing through the censorship of Allied countries, they were a little more likely to be taken at their face value than letters addressed to foreigners.
So far so good. But the German high official was a very busy person; and letters might find their way into his hands which were really intended for English persons and not for him at all. Accordingly, to make all clear, to warn him that here indeed was a letter deserving his kind attention, that little trifling alteration in the date was adopted; as though a man writing on the 28th had mislaid the calendar or newspaper and assigned the 27th to the day of writing, and afterwards had discovered his mistake. It was no wonder accordingly that hope ran high in both Fairbairn and Hillyard as they read through this letter; although, upon the face of it, it was nothing but a sentimental effusion from a sister to a brother.
"We have got to clear all this nonsense away first," said Hillyard.
Fairbairn took the letter, and placing it on one of the developing dishes, poured over it a liquid from a bottle.
"That won't take very long," he said.
Meanwhile Hillyard busied himself with the second of the two white porcelain dishes. He brought out a cruet stand from a cupboard at the side of the stove and filled the dish half full of vinegar. He added water until the liquid rose within half an inch of the rim, and rocked the dish that the dilution might be complete. Next he took a new copying-pencil from the pen-tray on his bureau and stripping the wood away with his knife, dropped the blue lead into the vinegar and water. This lead he carefully dissolved with the help of a glass pestle.
"There! It's ready," he said.
"I, too," added Fairbairn.
He lifted out of the developing dish a wet sheet of writing paper which was absolutely blank. Not one drop of the black ink which had recorded those sentimental effusions remained. It was just a sheet of notepaper which had accidentally fallen into a basin of water.
"That's all right," said Hillyard; and Fairbairn gently slid the sheet into the dish in front of Hillyard. And for a while nothing happened.
"It's a clever trick, isn't it?" Hillyard used the words again, but now with a note of nervousness. "No unlikely paraphernalia needed. Just a copying pencil and some vinegar, which you can get anywhere. Yes, it's a clever trick!"
"If it works," Fairbairn added bluntly.
Both men watched the dish anxiously. The paper remained blank. The solution did not seem to work. It was the first time they had ever made use of it. The coast slid by unnoticed.
"Lopez was certain," said Fairbairn, "quite certain that this was the developing formula."
Hillyard nodded gloomily, but he did not remove his eyes from that irresponsive sheet.
"There may be some other ingredient, something kept quite secret—something known only to one man or two."
He sat down, hooking his chair with his foot nearer to the table.
"We must wait."
"That's all there is to be done," said Fairbairn, and they waited; and they waited. They had no idea, even if the formula should work, whether the writing would flash up suddenly like an over-exposed photographic plate, or emerge shyly and reluctantly letter by letter, word by word. Then, without a word spoken, Fairbairn's finger pointed. A brown stain showed on the whiteness of the paper—just a stroke. It was followed by a curve and another stroke. Hillyard swiftly turned the oblong developing dish so that the side of it, and not the end, was towards him now.
"The writing is across the sheet," he said, and then with a cry, "Look!"
A word was coming out clear, writing itself unmistakably in the middle of the line, at the bottom of the sheet—a signature. Zimmermann!
"From the General Staff!" said Hillyard, in a whisper of excitement. "My word!" He looked at Fairbairn with an eager smile of gratitude. "It's your doing that we have got this—yours and Lopez Baeza's!"
Miraculously the brown strokes and curves and dots and flourishes trooped out of nothing, and fell in like sections and platoons and companies with their due space between them, some quick and trim, some rather slovenly in their aspect, some loitering; but in the end the battalion of words stood to attention, dressed for inspection. The brown had turned black before Hillyard lifted the letter from the solution and spread it upon a sheet of blotting paper.
"Now let us see!" and they read the letter through.
One thousand pounds in English money were offered for reliable information as to the number of howitzers and tanks upon the British front.
A second sum of a thousand pounds for reliable information as to the manufacture of howitzers and tanks in England.
"So far, it's not very exciting," Hillyard remarked with disappointment, as he turned the leaf. But the letter progressed in interest.
A third sum of a thousand pounds was offered for a list of the postal sections on the British front, with the name, initials and rank of a really good and reliable British soldier in each section who was prepared to receive and answer correspondence.
Fairbairn chuckled and observed:
"I think Herr Zimmermann might be provided with a number of such good and reliable soldiers selected by our General Staff," and he added with a truculent snort, "We could do with that sum of a thousand pounds here. You must put in a claim for it, Hillyard. Otherwise they'll snaffle it in London."
Fairbairn, once a mild north-country schoolmaster, of correct phraseology and respectable demeanour, had, under the pressure of his service, developed like that white sheet of notepaper. He had suffered
"A sea-change Into something rich and strange"
and from a schoolmaster had become a buccaneer with a truculent manner and a mind of violence. London, under which name he classed all Government officials, offices, departments, and administrations, particularly roused his ire. London was ignorant, London was stupid, London was always doing him and the other buccaneers down, was always snaffling something which he ought to have. Fairbairn, uttering one snort of satisfaction, would have shot it with his Browning.
"Get it off your chest, old man," said Hillyard soothingly, "and we'll go on with this letter. It looks to me as if——" He was glancing onwards and checked himself with an exclamation. His face became grave and set.
"Listen to this," and he read aloud, translating as he went along.
"Since the tubes have been successful in France, the device should be extended to England. B45 is obviously suitable for the work. A submarine will sink letters for the Embassy in Madrid and a parcel of the tubes between the twenty-seventh and the thirtieth of July, within Spanish territorial waters off the Cabo de Cabron. A green light will be shown in three short flashes from the sea and it should be answered from the shore by a red and a white and two reds."
Hillyard leaned back in his chair.
"B45," he cried in exasperation. "We get no nearer to him."
"Wait a bit!" Fairbairn interposed. "We are a deal nearer to him through Zimmermann's very letter here. What are these tubes which have been so successful in France? Once we get hold of them and understand them and know what end they are to serve, we may get an idea of the kind of man obviously suitable for handling them."
"Like B45," said Hillyard.
"Yes! The search will be narrowed to one kind of man. Oh, we shall be much nearer, if only we get the tubes—if only the Germans in Madrid don't guess this letter's gone astray to us."
Hillyard had reflected already upon that contingency.
"But why should they? The sleeping-car man is held incomunicado. There is no reason why they should know anything about this letter at all, if we lay our plans carefully."
He folded up the letter and locked it away in the drawer. He looked for a while out of the window of the saloon. The yacht had rounded the Cabo San Antonio. It was still the forenoon.
"This is where Jose Medina has got to come in," he declared. "You must go to Madrid, Fairbairn, and keep an eye on Mr. Jack Williams. Meanwhile, here Jose Medina has got to come in."
Fairbairn reluctantly agreed. He would much rather have stayed upon the coast and shared in the adventure, but it was obviously necessary that a keen watch should be kept in Madrid.
"Very well," he said, "unless, of course, you would like to go to Madrid yourself."
"I think not, old man."
He mounted the ladder to the bridge and gave the instructions to the Captain, and early that evening the Dragonfly was piloted into the harbour of Alicante. Hillyard and Fairbairn went ashore. They had some hours to get through before they could take the journey they intended. They sauntered accordingly along the esplanade beneath the palm trees until they came to the Casino. Both were temporary members of that club, and they sat down upon the cane chairs on the broad side-walk. A military band was playing on the esplanade a little to their right, and in front of them a throng of visitors and townspeople strolled and sat in the evening air. Hillyard smiled as he watched the kaleidoscopic grouping and re-grouping of men and children and women. The revolutions of his life, a subject which in the press of other and urgent matters had fallen of late into the background of his thoughts, struck him again as wondrous and admirable. He began to laugh with enjoyment. He looked at Fairbairn. How dull in comparison the regular sequences of his career!
"I wandered about here barefoot and penniless," he said, "not so very long ago. On this very pavement!" He struck it with his foot, commending to Fairbairn the amazing fact. "I have cleaned boots," and he called to a boy who was lying in wait with a boot-black's apparatus on his back for any dusty foot. "Chico, come and clean my shoes." He jested with the boy with the kindliness of a Spaniard, and gave him a shining peseta. Hillyard was revelling in the romance of his life under the spur of the excitement which the affair of the letter had fired in him. "Yes, I wandered here, passing up and down in front of this very Casino."
And Fairbairn saw his face change and his eyes widen as though he recognised some one in the throng beneath the trees.
"What is it?" Fairbairn asked, and for a little while Hillyard did not answer. His eyes were not following any movements under the trees. They saw no one present in Alicante that day. Slowly he turned to Fairbairn, and answered in voice of suspense:
"Nothing! I was just remembering—and wondering!"
He remained sunk in abstraction for a long time. "It can't be!" at grips with "If it could be!" and a rising inspiration that "It was!" A man had once tried him out with questions about Alicante, a man who was afraid lest he should have seen too much. But Hillyard had learnt to hold his tongue when he had only inspirations to go upon, and he disclosed nothing of this to Fairbairn.
Later on, when darkness had fallen, the two men drove in a motor-car southwards round the bay and through a shallow valley to the fishing village of Torrevieja. When you came upon its broad beach of shingle and sand, with its black-tarred boats hauled up, and its market booths, you might dream that you had been transported to Broadstairs—except for one fact. The houses are built in a single story, since the village is afflicted with earthquakes. Two houses rise higher than the rest, the hotel and the Casino. In the Casino Hillyard found Jose Medina's agent for those parts sitting over his great mug of beer; and they talked together quietly for a long while.
Thus Martin Hillyard fared in those days. He played with life and death, enjoying vividly the one and ever on the brink of the other, but the deep, innermost realities of either had as yet touched him not at all.
ON A CAPE OF SPAIN
The great cape thrusts its knees far out into the Mediterranean, and close down by the sea on the very point a lighthouse stands out from the green mass like a white pencil. South-westwards the land runs sharply back in heights of tangled undergrowths and trees, overhangs a wide bay and drops at the end of the bay to the mouth of a spacious, empty harbour. Eastwards the cape slopes inland at a gentler angle with an undercliff, a narrow plateau, and behind the plateau mountain walls. Two tiny fishing villages cluster a mile or two apart at the water's edge, and high up on the cape's flanks here and there a small rude settlement clings to the hillside. There are no roads to the cape. From the east you may ride a horse towards it, and lose your way. From the west you must approach by boat. So remote and unvisited is this region that the women in these high villages, their homes cut out of the actual brown rock, still cover their faces with the Moorish veil.
There are no roads, but Jose Medina was never deterred by the lack of roads. His business, indeed, was a shy one, and led him to prefer wild country. A high police official in one great town said of him:
"For endurance and activity there is no one like Jose Medina between the sea and the Pyrenees. You think him safe in Mallorca and look! He lands one morning from the steamer, jumps into a motor-car, and in five minutes—whish!—he is gone like the smoke of my cigarette. He will drive his car through our mountains by tracks, of which the guardia civil does not even know the existence."
By devious tracks, then, now through narrow gullies in brown and barren mountains, now striking some village path amidst peach trees and marguerites, Jose Medina drove Martin Hillyard down to the edge of the sea. Here amongst cactus bushes in flower, with turf for a carpet, a camp had been prepared near to one of the two tiny villages. Jose Medina was king in this region. The party arrived in the afternoon of the twenty-sixth day of the month, all of the colour of saffron from the dust-clouds the car had raised, and Hillyard so stiff and bruised with the intolerable jolting over ruts baked to iron, that he could hardly climb down on to the ground. He slept that night amidst such a music of birds as he had never believed possible one country could produce. Through the night of the twenty-sixth he and Jose Medina watched; their lanterns ready to their hands. Lights there were in plenty on the sea, but they were the lights of acetylene lamps used by the fishermen of those parts to attract the fish; and the morning broke with the lighthouse flashing wanly over a smooth sea, pale as fine jade.
"There are three more nights," said Hillyard. He was a little dispirited after the fatigue of the day before and the long, empty vigil on the top of the day.
The next watch brought no better fortune. There was no moon; the night was of a darkness so clear that the stars threw pale and tremulous paths over the surface of the water, and from far away the still air vibrated from time to time with the throbbing of propellers as the ships without lights passed along the coast.
Hillyard rose from the blanket on which he and Jose Medina had been lying during the night. It had been spread on a patch of turf in a break of the hill some hundreds of feet above the sea. He was cold. The blanket was drenched and the dew hung like a frost on bush and grass.
"It looks as if they had found out," he said.
"This is only the second night," said Jose Medina.
"It all means so much to me," replied Hillyard, shivering in the briskness of the morning.
"Courage, the little Marteen!" cried Jose Medina. "After breakfast and a few hours' sleep, we shall take a rosier view."
Hillyard, however, could not compose himself to those few hours. The dread lest the Germans should have discovered the interception of their letters weighed too heavily upon him. Even in the daylight he needs must look out over that placid sunlit sea and imagine here and there upon its surface the low tower and grey turtle-back of a submarine. Success here might be so great a thing, so great a saving of lives, so dire a blow to the enemy. Somehow that day slowly dragged its burning hours to sunset, the coolness of the evening came, and the swift darkness upon its heels, and once more, high up on the hillside, the vigil was renewed. And at half-past one in the morning, far away at sea, a green light, bright as an emerald, flashed thrice and was gone.
"Did I not say to you, 'Have courage'?" said Jose Medina.
"Quick! the Lanterns!" replied Hillyard. "The red first! Good! Now the white. So! And the red again. Now we must wait!" and he sank down again upon the blanket. All the impatience and languor were gone from him. The moment had come. He was at once steel to meet it.
"Yes," said Jose Medina, "we shall see nothing more now for a long while."
They heard no sound in that still night; they saw no gleam of lights. It seemed to Hillyard that aeons passed before Jose touched him on the elbow and pointed downwards.
"Look!" he whispered excitedly.
Right at their very feet the long, grim vessel lay, so near that Hillyard had the illusion he could pitch a stone on to the conning tower. He now held his breath, lest his breathing should be heard. Then the water splashed, and a moment afterwards the submarine turned and moved to sea. They gave it five minutes, and then climbed down to a tiny creek. A rowing-boat lay in readiness there, with one man at the tiller and two at the oars.
"You saw it, Manuel?" said Medina as he and Hillyard stepped in.
"Yes, Senor Jose. It was very close. Oh, they know these waters!"
The oars churned the phosphorescent water into green fire, and the foam from the stem of the boat sparkled as though jewels were scattered into it by the oarsmen as they rowed. They stopped alongside a little white buoy which floated on the water. The buoy was attached to a rope; that again to a chain. A mat was folded over the side of the boat and the chain drawn cautiously in and coiled without noise. Hillyard saw the two men who were hauling it in bend suddenly at their work and heave with a greater effort.
"It is coming," said one of them, and the man at the tiller went forward to help them. Hillyard leaned over the side of the heavy boat and stared down into the water. But the night was too dark for him to see anything but the swirl of green fire made by the movement of the chain and the fire-drops falling from the links. At last something heavy knocked against the boat's flanks.
"Once more," whispered the man from the tiller. "Now!"
And the load was perched upon the gunwale and lowered into the boat. It consisted of three square and bulky metal cases, bound together by the chain.
"We have it, my friend Marteen," whispered Jose Medina, with a laugh of sheer excitement. He was indeed hardly less stirred than Hillyard himself. "Not for nothing did the little Marteen lead the horse across the beach of Benicassim. Now we will row back quickly. We must be far away from here by the time the world is stirring."
The boatmen bent to their oars with a will, and the boat leaped upon the water. They had rowed for fifty yards when suddenly far away a cannon boomed. The crew stopped, and every one in the boat strained his eyes seawards. Some one whispered, and Hillyard held up his hand for silence. Thus they sat immobile as figures of wax for the space of ten minutes. Then Hillyard relaxed from his attention.
"They must have got her plump with the first shot," he said; and, indeed, there was no other explanation for that boom of a solitary cannon across the midnight sea.
Jose Medina laughed.
"So the little Marteen had made his arrangements?"
"What else am I here for?" retorted the little Marteen, and though he too laughed, a thrill of triumph ran through the laugh. "It just needed that shot to round all off. I was so afraid that we should not hear it, that it might never be fired. Now it will never be known, if your men keep silent, whether they sunk their cargo or were sunk with it on board."
The crew once more drove the blades of their oars through the water, and did not slacken till the shore was reached. They clambered up the rocks to their camp bearing their treasure, and up from the camp again to the spot where Jose's motor-car was hidden. Jose talked to the boatmen while the cans were stowed away in the bottom of the car, and then turned to Hillyard.
"There will be no sign of our camp at daybreak. The tent will be gone—everything. If our luck holds—and why should it not?—no one need ever know that the Senor Marteen and his friend Jose Medina picnicked for three days upon that cape."
"But the lighthouse-keepers! What of them?" objected Hillyard. In him, too, hope and excitement were leaping high. But this objection he offered up on the altars of the gods who chastise men for the insolence of triumph.
"What of them?" Jose Medina repeated gaily. "They, too, are my friends this many a year." He seated himself at the wheel of the car. "Come, for we cannot drive fast amongst these hills in the dark."
Hillyard will never forget to the day of his death that wild passage through the mountains. Now it was some sudden twist to avoid a precipice, now a jerk and a halt whilst Jose stared into the darkness ahead of him; here the car jolted suddenly over great stones, then it sank to the axle in soft dust; at another place the bushes whipped their faces; and again they must descend and build a little bridge of boughs and undergrowth over a rivulet. But so high an elation possessed him that he was unconscious both of the peril and the bruises. He could have sung aloud. They stopped an hour after daybreak and breakfasted by the side of the car in a high country of wild flowers. The sun was hidden from them by a barrier of hills.
"We shall strike an old mine-road in half an hour," said Jose Medina, "and make good going."
They came into a district of grey, weathered rock, and, making a wide circuit all that day, crept towards nightfall down to the road between Aguilas and Cartagena; and once more the sea lay before them.
"We are a little early," said Medina. "We will wait here until it is dark. The carabineros are not at all well disposed to me, and there are a number of them patrolling the road."
They were above the road and hidden from it by a hedge of thick bushes. Between the leaves Hillyard could see a large felucca moving westwards some miles from the shore and a long way off on the road below two tiny specks. The specks grew larger and became two men on horses. They became larger still, and in the failing light Hillyard was just able to distinguish that they wore the grey uniform of the Guardia Civil.
"Let us pray," said Medina with a note of anxiety in his voice, "that they do not become curious about our fishing-boat out there!"
As he spoke the two horsemen halted, and did look out to sea. They conversed each with the other.
"If I were near enough to hear them!" said Jose Medina, and he suddenly turned in alarm upon Hillyard. "What are you doing?" he said.
Hillyard had taken a large.38 Colt automatic pistol from his pocket. His face was drawn and white and very set.
"I am doing nothing—for the moment," he answered. "But those two men must ride on before it is dark and too late for me to see them."
"But they are of the Guardia Civil," Jose Medina expostulated in awed tones.
To the Spaniard, the mere name of the Guardia Civil, so great is its prestige, and so competent its personnel, inspires respect.
"I don't care," answered Hillyard savagely. "In this war why should two men on a road count at all? Let them go on, and nothing will happen."
Jose Medina, who had been assuming the part of protector and adviser to his young English friend, had now the surprise of his life. He found himself suddenly relegated to the second place and by nothing but sheer force of character. Hillyard rested the point of his elbow on the earth and supported the barrel of his Colt upon his left forearm. He aimed carefully along the sights.
"Let them go on!" he said between his teeth. "I will give them until the last moment—until the darkness begins to hide them. But not a moment longer. I am not here, my friend, for my health. I am here because there is a war."
"The little Marteen" was singularly unapparent at this moment Here was just the ordinary appalling Englishman who had not the imagination to understand what a desperately heinous crime it would be to kill two of the Guardia Civil, who was simply going to do it the moment it became necessary, and would not lose one minute of his sleep until his dying day because he had done it. Jose Medina was completely at a loss as he looked into the grim indifferent face of his companion. The two horsemen were covered. The Colt would kill at more than five hundred yards, and it had no more to do than carry sixty. And still those two fools sat on their horses, and babbled to one another, and looked out to sea.
"What am I to do with this loco Ingles?" Jose Medina speculated, wringing his hands in an agony of apprehension. He had no share in those memories which at this moment invaded Martin Hillyard, and touched every fibre of his soul. Martin Hillyard, though his eye never left the sights of his Colt nor his mind wavered from his purpose, was with a subordinate consciousness stealing in the dark night up the footpath between the big, leafy trees over the rustic railway bridge to the summit of the hill. He was tramping once more through lanes, between fields, and stood again upon a hillock of Peckham Rye, and saw the morning break in beauty and in wonder over London. The vision gained from the foolish and romantic days of his boyhood, steadied his finger upon the trigger after all these years.
Then to Jose's infinite relief the two horsemen rode on. The long, black, shining barrel of the Colt followed them as they dwindled on the road. They turned a corner, and as Hillyard replaced his pistol in his pocket, Jose Medina rolled over on his back, and clapped his hands to his face.
"You might have missed," he gasped. "One of them at all events."
Hillyard turned to him with a grin. The savage was not yet exorcised.
"Why?" he asked. "Why should I have missed one of them? It was my business not to."
Jose Medina flung up his hands.
"I will not argue with you. We are not made of the same earth."
Hillyard's face changed to gentleness.
"Pretty nearly, my friend," he said, and he laid a hand on Jose Medina's shoulder. "For we are good friends—such good friends that I do not scruple to drag you into the same perils as myself."
Hillyard had not wasted his time during those three years when he loafed and worked about the quays of Southern Spain. He touched the right chord now with an unerring skill. Hillyard might be the mad Englishman, the loco Ingles! But to be reckoned by one of them as one of them—here was an insidious flattery which no one of Jose Medina's upbringing could possibly resist.
At nightfall they drove down across the road on to the beach. A rowing-boat was waiting, and Medina's manager from Alicante beside the boat on the sand. The cases were quickly transferred from the car to the boat.
"We will take charge of the car," said Jose to his manager, and he stepped into the boat, and sat down beside Hillyard. "This is my adventure. I see it through to the end," he explained.
A mile away the felucca picked them up. Hillyard rolled himself up in a rug in the bows of the boat. He looked up to the stars tramping the sky above his head.
"And gentlemen in England now a-bed."
Drowsily he muttered the immemorial line, and turning on his side slept as only the tired men who know they have done their work can sleep. He was roused in broad daylight. The felucca was lying motionless upon the water; no land was anywhere in sight; but above the felucca towered the tall side of the steam yacht Dragonfly.
Fairbairn was waiting at the head of the ladder. The cases were carried into the saloon and opened. The top cases were full of documents and letters, some private, most of them political.
"These are for the pundits," said Hillyard. He put them back again, and turned to the last case. In them were a number of small glass tubes, neatly packed in cardboard boxes with compartments lined with cotton wool.
"This is our affair, Fairbairn," he said. He took one out, and a look of perplexity crept over his face. The tube was empty. He tried another and another, and then another; every one of the tubes was empty.
"Now what in the world do you make of that?" he asked.
The tubes had yet to be filled and there was no hint of what they were to be filled with.
"What I am wondering about is why they troubled to send the tubes at all?" said Fairbairn slowly. "There's some reason, of course, something perhaps in the make of the glass."
He held one of the tubes up to the light. There was nothing to distinguish it from any one of the tubes in which small tabloids are sold by chemists.
Hillyard got out of his bureau the letter in which these tubes were mentioned.
"'They have been successful in France,'" he said, quoting from the letter. "The scientists may be able to make something of them in Paris. This letter and the tubes together may give a clue. I think that I had better take one of the boxes to Paris."
"Yes," said Fairbairn gloomily. "But——" and he shrugged his shoulders.
"But it's one of the ninety per cent, which go wrong, eh?" Hillyard finished the sentence with bitterness. Disappointment was heavy upon both men. Hillyard, too, was tired by the tension of these last sleepless days. He had not understood how much he had counted upon success.
"Yes, it's damnably disheartening," he cried. "I thought these tubes might lead us pretty straight to B45."
The exclamation came from Jose Medina, who was leaning against the doorpost of the saloon, half in the room, half out on the sunlit deck. He had placed himself tactfully aloof. The examination of the cases was none of his business. Now, however, his face lit up.
"B45." He shut the door and took a seat at the table. "I can tell you about B45."
THE USES OF SCIENCE
It was Hillyard's creed that chance will serve a man very capably, if he is equipped to take advantage of its help; and here was an instance. The preparation had begun on the morning when Hillyard took the Dragonfly into the harbour of Palma. Chance had offered her assistance some months later in an hotel at Madrid; as Medina was now to explain.
"The day after you left Mallorca," said Jose Medina, "it was known all over Palma that you had come to visit me."
"Of course," answered Martin.
"I was in consequence approached almost immediately, by the other side."
"I expected that. It was only natural."
"There is a young lady in Madrid," continued Jose Medina.
"Rosa Hahn, then."
"Yes," said Jose Medina.
Jose rose and unlocking a drawer in his bureau took out from it a sheaf of photographs. He selected one and handed it with a smile to Hillyard. It was the portrait of a good-looking girl, tall, dark, and intelligent, but heavy about the feet, dressed in Moorish robes, and extended on a divan in Oriental indolence against a scene cloth which outdid the luxuries of Llalla Rookh.
"That's the lady, I think."
Medina gazed at the picture with delight. He touched his lips with his fingers, and threw a kiss to it. His sharp, sallow face suddenly flowered into smiles.
"Yes. What a woman! She has real intelligence," he exclaimed fervently.
Jose Medina was in the habit of losing his heart and keeping his head a good many times in an ordinary year.
"It's an extraordinary thing," Martin Hillyard remarked, "that however intelligent they are, not one of these young ladies can resist the temptation to have her portrait taken in Moorish dress at the photographer's in the Alhambra."
Jose Medina saw nothing at all grotesque or ridiculous in this particular foible.
"They make such charming pictures," he cried.
"And it is very useful for us, too," remarked Hillyard. "The photographer is a friend of mine."
Jose was still gazing at the photograph.
"Such a brain, my friend! She never told a story the second time differently, however emotional the moment. She never gave away a secret."
"She probably didn't know any," said Hillyard.
But Jose would not hear of such a reason.
"Oh, yes! She has great influence. She knows people in Berlin—great people. She is their friend, and I cannot wonder. What an intelligence!"
Martin Hillyard laughed.
"She seems to have fairly put it over you at any rate," he said. He was not alarmed at Jose Medina's fervour. For he knew that remarkable man's capacity for holding his tongue even in the wildest moments of his temporary passions. But he took the photograph away from Medina and locked it up again. The rapturous reminiscences of Rosa Hahn's intelligence checked the flow of that story which was to lead him to B45.
"So you know about her?" Jose said with an envious eye upon the locked drawer.
"A little," said Martin Hillyard.
Rosa Hahn was a clerk in the office of the Hamburg-Amerika Line before the war, and in the Spanish Department. She was sent to Spain in the last days of July, 1914, upon Government work, and at a considerable salary, which she enjoyed. She seemed indeed to have done little else, and Berlin, after a year, began to complain. Berlin had a lower opinion of both her social position and her brains than Jose Medina had formed. Berlin needed results, and failing to obtain them, proceeded to hint more and more definitely that Rosa had better return to her clerk's stool in Hamburg. Rosa, however, had been intelligent enough to make friends with one or two powerful Germans in Spain; and they pleaded for her with this much success. She was given another three months within which period she must really do something to justify her salary. So much Martin Hillyard already knew; he learnt now that Jose Medina had provided the great opportunity. To snatch him with his two hundred motor feluccas and his eighteen thousand men from the English—here was something really worth doing.
"What beats me," said Hillyard, "is why they didn't try to get at you before."
"They didn't," said Medina.
Rosa, it seemed, used the argument which is generally sound; that the old and simple tricks are the tricks which win. She discovered the hotel at which Jose Medina stayed in Madrid, and having discovered it she went to stay there herself. She took pains to become friendly with the manager and his staff, and by professing curiosity and interest in the famous personage, she made sure not only that she would have fore-warning of his arrival, but that Jose Medina himself would hear of a charming young lady to whom he appealed as a hero of romance. She knew Jose to be of a coming-on disposition—and the rest seemed easy. Only, she had not guarded against the workings of Chance.
The hotel was the Hotel de Napoli, not one of the modern palaces of cement and steel girders, built close to the Prado, but an old house near the Puerto del Sol, a place of lath and plaster walls and thin doors; so that you must not raise your voice unless you wish your affairs to become public property. To this house Jose Medina came as he had many times come before, and Chance willed that he should occupy the next room to that occupied by Rosa Hahn. It was the merest accident. It was the merest accident, too, that Jose Medina whilst he was unpacking his bag heard his name pronounced in the next room. Jose Medina, with all his qualities, was of the peasant class with much of the peasant mind. He was inquisitive, and he was suspicious. Let it be said in his defence that he had enemies enough ready to pull him down, not only, as we have seen, amongst his rivals on the coast, but here, amongst the Government officials of Madrid. It cost him a pretty penny annually to keep his balance on the tight-rope, as it was. He stepped noiselessly over to the door and listened. The voices were speaking in Spanish, one a woman's voice with a guttural accent.
"Rosa Hahn," said Hillyard as the story was told to him in the cabin of the yacht.
"The other a man's voice. But again it was a foreign voice, not a Spaniard's. But I could not distinguish the accent."
"Greek, do you think?" asked Hillyard. "There is a Levantine Greek high up in the councils of the Germans."
Jose Medina, however, did not know.
"Here were two foreigners talking about me, and fortunately in Spanish. I was to arrive immediately; Rosa was to make my acquaintance. What my relations were with this man, Hillyard—yes, you came into the conversation, my friend, too—I was quickly to be persuaded to tell. Oh—you have a saying—everything in your melon patch was lovely."
"Not for nothing has the American tourist come to Spain," Hillyard murmured.
"Then their voices dropped a little, and your B45 was mentioned—once or twice. And a name in connection with B45 once or twice. I did not understand what it was all about."
"But you remember the name!" Fairbairn exclaimed eagerly.
"Yes, I do."
"Well, what was it?"
It was again Fairbairn who spoke. Hillyard had not moved, nor did he even look up.
"It was Mario Escobar," said Jose Medina; and as he spoke he knew that the utterance of the name awakened no surprise in Martin Hillyard. Hillyard filled his pipe from the tobacco tin, and lighted it before he spoke.
"Do you know anything of this Mario Escobar?" he asked, "you who know every one?"
Jose Medina shrugged his shoulders, and threw up his hands.
"There was some years ago a Mario Escobar at Alicante," and Jose Medina saw Hillyard's eyes open and fix themselves upon him with an unblinking steadiness. Just so Jose Medina imagined might some savage animal in a jungle survey the man who had stumbled upon his lair.
"That Mario Escobar, a penniless, shameless person, was in business with a German, the German Vice-Consul. He went from Alicante to London."
"Thank you," said Hillyard. He rose from his chair and went to the window. But he saw nothing of the deck outside, or the sea beyond. He saw a man at a supper party in London a year before the war began, betraying himself by foolish insistent questions uttered in fear lest his close intimacy with Germans in Alicante should be known.
"I have no doubt that Mario Escobar came definitely to England, long before the war, to spy," said Hillyard gravely. He returned to the table, and took up again one of the empty glass tubes.
"I wonder what he was to do with these."
Jose Medina had opened the door of the saloon once more. A beam of sunlight shot through the doorway, and enveloped Hillyard's arm and hand. The tiny slim phial glittered like silver; and to all of them in the cabin it became a sinister engine of destruction.
"That, as you say, is your affair. I must go," said Jose, and he shook hands with Hillyard and Fairbairn, and went out on to the deck. "Hasta luego!"
"Hasta ahora!" returned Hillyard; and Jose Medina walked down the steps of the ladder to his felucca. The blue sea widened between the two vessels; and in a week, Hillyard descended from a train on to the platform of the Quai D'Orsay station in Paris. He had the tubes in his luggage, and one box of them he took that morning to Commandant Marnier at his office on the left bank of the river with the letter which gave warning of their arrival.
"You see what the letter says," Hillyard explained. "These tubes have been very successful in France."
Marnier nodded his head:
"If you will leave them with me, I will show them to our chemists, and perhaps, in a few days, I will have news for you."
For a week Hillyard took his ease in Paris and was glad of the rest in the midst of those strenuous days. He received one morning at his hotel, a batch of letters, many of which had been written months before. But two were of recent date. Henry Luttrell wrote to him:
"My battalion did splendidly and our debt to old Oakley is great. There is only a handful of us left and we are withdrawn, of course, from the lines. By some miracle I escaped without a hurt. Everybody has been very generous, making it up to us for our bad times. The Corps Commander came and threw bouquets in person, and we hear that D.H. himself is going out of his way to come and inspect us. I go home on leave in a fortnight and hope to come back in command of the battalion. Perhaps we may meet in London. Let me hear if that is possible."
The second letter had been sent from Rackham Park, and in it Millie Splay wrote:
"We have not heard from you for years. Will you be in England this August? We are trying to gather again our old Goodwood party. Both Dennis Brown and Harold Jupp will be home on leave. There will be no Goodwood of course, but there is a meeting at Gatwick which is easily reached from here. Do come if you can and bring your friend with you, if he is in London and has nothing better to do. We have all been reading about him in the papers, and Chichester is very proud of belonging to the same mess, and says what a wonderful thing it must be to be able to get into the papers like that, without trying to."
Hillyard could see the smile upon Lady Splay's face as she wrote that sentence. Hillyard laughed as he read it but it was less in amusement as from pleasure at the particular information which this sentence contained. Harry Luttrell had clearly won a special distinction in the hard fighting at Thiepval. There was not a word in Harry's letter to suggest it. There would not be. All his pride and joy would be engrossed by the great fact that his battalion had increased its good name.
There was a closing sentence in Millie Splay's letter which brought another smile to his lips.
"Linda Spavinsky is, alas, going as strong as ever. She was married last meek, in violet, as you will remember, to the Funeral March of a Marionette and already she is in the throes of domestic unhappiness. Her husband, fleshy, of course, red in the face, and accustomed to sleep after dinner, simply WON'T understand her."
Here again Hillyard was able to see the smile on Millicent Splay's face, but it was a smile rather rueful and it ended, no doubt, in a sigh of annoyance. Hillyard himself was caught away to quite another scene. He was once more in the small motor-car on the top of Duncton Hill, and looked out over the Weald of Sussex to the Blackdown and Hindhead, and the slopes of Leith Hill, imagined rather than seen, in the summer haze. He saw Joan Whitworth's rapt face, and heard her eager cry.
"Look out over the Weald of Sussex, so that you can carry it away with you in your breast. Isn't it worth everything—banishment, suffering—everything? Not the people so much, but the earth itself and the jolly homes upon it!"
A passage followed which disturbed him:
"There are other things too. My magnolia is still in bud. I dread a blight before the flower opens."
It was a cry of distress—nothing less than that—uttered in some moment of intense depression. Else it would never have been allowed to escape at all.
Hillyard folded up the letter. He would be going home in any case. There were those tubes. There was B45. He had enjoyed no leave since he had left England. Yes, he would go down to Rackham Park, and take Harry Luttrell with him if he could.
Two days later the Commandant Marnier came to see him at the Ritz Hotel. They dined together in a corner of the restaurant.
"We have solved the problem of those tubes," said Marnier. "They are nothing more nor less than time-fuses."
"Time-fuses!" Hillyard repeated. "I don't understand."
Marnier looked around. There was no one near enough to overhear him, if he did not raise his voice; and he was careful to speak in a whisper.
"Two things." He ticked them off upon his fingers. "First, hydrofluoric acid when brought into contact with certain forms of explosive will create a fire. Second, hydrofluoric acid will bite its way through glass. The thicker the glass, the longer the time required to set the acid free. Do you follow?"
"Yes," said Hillyard.
"Good! Make a glass tube of such thickness that it will take hydrofluoric acid four hours and a half to eat its way through. Then fill it with acid and seal it up. You have a time-fuse which will act precisely in four hours and a half."
"If it comes into contact with the necessary explosive," Hillyard added.
"Exactly. Now attend to this! Our workmen in our munition factories work three hours and a half. Then they go to their luncheon."
"Munition factories!" said Hillyard with a start.
"Yes, my friend. Munition factories. We are short of labour as you know. Our men are in the firing line. We must get labour from some other source. And there is only one source."
"The neutrals," Hillyard exclaimed.
"Yes, the neutrals, and especially the neutrals who are near to us, who can come without difficulty and without much expense. We have a good many Spanish workmen in our munition factories and three of these factories have recently been burnt down. We have the proof now, thanks to you, that those little glass tubes so carefully manufactured in Berlin to last four hours and a half and no more, set the fires going."
"Proof, you say?" Hillyard asked earnestly. "It is not probability or moral certainty? It is actual bed-rock proof?"
"Yes. For once our chemists had grasped how these tubes could be used, we knew what to look for when the workmen were searched on entering the factory. Two days ago we caught a man. He had one of these little tubes in his mouth and in the lining of his waistcoat, just a little high explosive, so little was necessary that it must escape notice unless you knew what to search for. Yes, we caught him and he, the good fellow, the good honest neutral"—it would be difficult to describe the bitterness and scorn which rang through Marnier's words, "has been kind enough to tell me how he earned his German pay as well as his French wages."
Hillyard leaned forward.
"Yes, tell me that!"
"On his way to the factory in the morning, he makes a call."
"The one on whom he calls fills the tube or has it just filled and gives it to the workman. The time fuse is set for four hours and a half. The workman has so arranged it that he will reach the factory half an hour after the tube is filled. He passes the searcher. At his place he takes off his waistcoat and hangs it up and in the pocket, just separated from the explosive by the lining of the waistcoat, he places, secretly, the tube. The tube has now four hours of life and the workman three and a half hours of work. When the whistle goes to knock off for luncheon, the workman leaves his waist coat still hanging up on the peg and goes out in the stream. But half an hour afterwards, half-way through the hour of luncheon, the acid reaches the explosive. There is a tiny explosion in that empty hall, not enough to make a great noise, but quite enough to start a big fire; and when the workmen return, the building is ablaze. No lives are lost, but the factory is burnt down."
Hillyard sat for a little while in thought.
"Perhaps you can tell me," he said at length. "I hear nothing from England or very little; and naturally. Are we obtaining Spanish workmen, too, for our munition factories?"
It was clear now why B45 was especially suitable for this work. B45 was Mario Escobar, a Spaniard himself.
"And filling the tubes! That is simple?"
"A child could do it," answered Marnier.
"Thank you," said Martin Hillyard.
The next evening he left Paris and travelling all night to Boulogne, reached London in the early afternoon of the following day. Twenty months had passed since he had set foot there.
UNDER GREY SKIES AGAIN
Hillyard landed in England athirst for grey skies. Could he have chosen the season of the year which should greet him, he would have named October. For the ceaseless bright blue of sea and heaven had set him dreaming through many a month past, of still grey mornings sweet with the smell of earth and thick hedgerows and the cluck of pheasants. But there were at all events the fields wondrously green after the brown hill-sides and rusty grass, the little rich fields in the frames of their hedges, and the brown-roofed houses and the woods splashing their emerald branches in the sunlight. Hillyard travelled up through Kent rejoicing. He reached London in the afternoon, and leaving his luggage in his flat walked down to the house in the quiet street behind the Strand whence Commodore Graham overlooked the Thames.
But even in this backwater the changes of the war were evident. The brass plates had all gone from the door post and girls ran up and down the staircases in stockings which some Allied fairies had woven on Midsummer morning out of cobwebs of dew. They were, however, as unaware as of old of any Commodore Graham. Was he quite certain that he wanted to see Commodore Graham. And why? And, after all, was there a Commodore Graham? Gracious damsels looked blandly at one another, with every apparent desire to assist this sunburnt stranger. It seemed to Hillyard that they would get for him immediately any one else in the world whom he chose to name. It was just bitterly disappointing and contrarious that the one person he wished to see was a Commodore Graham. Oh, couldn't he be reasonable and ask for somebody else?
"Very well," said Hillyard with a smile. "There was a pretty girl with grey eyes, and I'll see her."
"The description is vague," said the young lady demurely.
"She is Miss Cheyne."
"Oh!" said one.
"Oh!" said another; and
"Will you follow me, please?" said a third, who at once became business-like and brisk, and led him up the stairs. The door was still unvarnished. Miss Cheyne opened it, wearing the composed expression of attention with which she had greeted Hillyard when he had sought admission first. But her face broke up into friendliness and smiles, when she recognised him, and she drew him into the room.
"The Commodore's away for a week," she said. "He had come to the end: no sleep, nerves all jangled. He is up in Scotland shooting grouse."
Hillyard nodded. His news could wait a week very well, since it had waited already two years.
"And you?" he asked.
"Oh, I had a fortnight," replied Miss Cheyne, her eyes dancing at the recollection. It was her pleasure to sail a boat in Bosham Creek and out towards the Island. "Not a day of rain during the whole time."
"I think that I might have a month then, don't you?" said Hillyard, and Miss Cheyne opined that there would be no objection.
"But you will come back in a week," she stipulated, "won't you? The Commodore will be here on Thursday, and there are things accumulating which he must see to. So will you come on Friday?"
"Friday morning," Hillyard suggested.
Thursday was the day on which he should have travelled down to Rackham Park, but if he could finish his business on Friday morning, he would only lose one day.
"Friday morning then," said Miss Cheyne, and made a note of it.
Hillyard had thus a week in which to resume his friendships, arrange to write, at some distant time, a play, revisit his club and his tailor, and revel, as at a pageant, in the fresh beauty, the summer clothes, the white skin and clean-limbed boyishness of English girls. He went through, in a word, the first experiences of most men returned from a long sojourn in other climes; and they were ordinary enough. But the week was made notable for him by one small incident.
It was on the Monday and about five o'clock in the afternoon. He was walking from the Charing Cross Road towards Leicester Square, when, from a doorway ahead of him, a couple emerged. They did not turn his way but preceded him, so that he only saw their backs. But he had no doubt who one of the couple was. The fair hair, the tall, slim, long-limbed figure, the perverse sloppiness of dress which could not quite obscure her grace of youth, betrayed the disdainful prodigy of Rackham Park. The creator of Linda Spavinsky swam ahead of him. Had he doubted her identity, a glance at the door from which she had emerged would have dispelled the doubt. It was the entrance to a picture gallery, where, cubes and curves having served their turn and gone, the rotundists were having an innings. Everybody and everything was in rounds, palaces and gardens and ships and Westminster Bridge, and men and women were all in circles. The circle was the principle of life and art. Joan Whitworth would be drawn to the exhibition as a filing to a magnet. Undoubtedly Joan Whitworth was ahead of Hillyard and he began to hurry after her. But he checked himself after a few paces. Or rather the aspect of her companion checked him. His appearance was vaguely familiar, but that was all. It was not certainly Sir Chichester Splay, for the all-sufficient reason that the Private View had long gone by; since the very last week of the exhibition was announced in the window. Moreover, the man in front of him was younger than Sir Chichester.
The couple, however, crossed the road to the Square Garden, and Hillyard saw the man in profile. He stopped so suddenly that a man walking behind him banged heavily against his back. The man walked on and turned round after he had passed to stare at Hillyard. For Hillyard stood stock still, he was unaware that any one had run into him, in all his body his lips alone moved.
"Mario," he whispered. "Mario Escobar!"
The man who had been so far the foremost in his thoughts during the last weeks that he never thought that he could have failed to recognise him. Mario Escobar! And with Joan Whitworth. Millicent Splay's letter flashed back into his memory. The distress which he had seemed to hear loud behind the written words—was this its meaning and explanation? Joan Whitworth and Mario Escobar! Certainly Joan knew him! He was sitting next to her on the night when "The Dark Tower" was produced, sitting next to her, and talking to her. Sir Charles Hardiman had used some phrase to describe that conversation. Hillyard was strangely anxious to recapture the phrase. Escobar was talking to her with an air of intimacy a little excessive in a public place. Yes, that was the sentence.
Hillyard walked on quickly to his club.
"Is Sir Charles Hardiman here?" he asked of the hall porter.
"He is in the card-room, sir."
Martin Hillyard went up the stairs with a sense of relief. His position was becoming a little complicated. Mario Escobar was B45, and a friend of Joan Whitworth, and a friend of the Splays. There was one point upon which Martin Hillyard greatly needed information.
Hardiman, a little heavier and broader and more obese than when Hillyard had last seen him, was sitting by a bridge table overlooking the players. He never played himself, nor did he ever bet upon the game, but he took a curious pleasure in looking on, and would sit in the card-room by the hour engrossed in the fall of the cards. The sight of Hillyard, however, plucked him out of his occupation.
"So you're back!" he cried, heaving himself heavily out of his chair and shaking hands with Martin.
"For a month."
"I hear you have done very well," Sir Charles continued. "Have a whisky-and-soda."
Hardiman touched the bell and led the way over to a sofa.
"Lucky man! The doctor's read the Riot Act to me! I met Luttrell in the Mall this morning, on his way back from Buckingham Palace. He had just been given his D.S.O."
Hardiman began to sit down, but the couch was low, and though he began the movement lazily, it went suddenly with a run, so that the springs of the couch jumped and twanged and his feet flew from beneath him.
"Yes, he has done splendidly," said Martin. "His battalion too. That's what he cares about."
Sir Charles needed a moment or two after he had set down to recover his equipoise. He wiped his forehead with his handkerchief.
"Luttrell told me you were both off to Rackham Park this week for Gatwick."
"That's right! But I shan't get down until Friday afternoon," said Hillyard.
The waiter put the glass of whisky-and-soda at his side, and he took a drink from it.
"Perhaps you are going too," he suggested.
Hardiman shook his head.
Hillyard was silent for a minute. Then he asked another question.
"Do you know who is going to be there beside Luttrell and myself?"
Sir Charles smiled.
"I don't know, but I fancy that you won't find him amongst the guests."
Hillyard was a little startled by the answer, but he did not betray the least sign of surprise. He pursued his questions.
"You know whom I have in my mind?"
"I drew a bow at a venture," answered Sir Charles.
"Shall I name him?" asked Hillyard.
"I will," returned Sir Charles. "Mario Escobar."
Hillyard nodded. He took another pull at his whisky-and-soda. Then he lit a cigarette and leaned forward, with his elbows upon his knees; and all the while Sir Charles Hardiman, his body in a majestic repose, contemplated him placidly. Hardiman had this great advantage in any little matter of debate; he never wished to move. Place him in a chair, and he remained, singularly immobile.
"Since you were so quick to guess at once the reason of my question," continued Hillyard, "I can draw an inference. Mario Escobar has been at Rackham Park a good deal?"
Sir Charles Hardiman's smile broadened.
"Even now you don't express your inference," he retorted. "You mean that Mario Escobar has been at Rackham Park too much." He paused whilst he drew out his cigarette-case and selected a cigarette from it. "And I agree," he added. "Mario Escobar is too picturesque a person for these primitive days."
Hillyard was not sure what Sir Charles Hardiman precisely meant. But on the other hand he was anxious to ask no direct questions concerning Escobar. He sought to enter in by another gate.
"Primitive?" he said.
"Yes. We have become rather primitive, especially the women. They have lost a deal of self-consciousness. They exact less. They give more—oh, superbly more! It's the effect of war, of course. They have jumped down off their little pinnacles. Let me put it coarsely. They are saved from rape by the fighting man, and they know it. Consequently all men benefit and not least," Sir Charles lit his cigarette, "that beast of abomination, the professional manipulator of women, the man who lives by them and on them, who cajoles them first and blackmails them afterwards, who has the little attentions, the appealing voice, in fact all the tricks of his trade ready at his fingers' ends. However, Millie Splay's awake to the danger now."
"Danger!" Hillyard sharply exclaimed.
"Quite right. It's too strong a word. I take it back," Hardiman agreed at once. But he was not in the habit of using words wildly. He had said exactly what he meant to say, and having aroused the attention which he meant to arouse, he calmly withdrew the word. "I rubbed it into Chichester's thick head that Escobar was overmuch at Rackham Park, and in the end—it percolated."
Much the same account of Escobar, with this instance of Rackham Park omitted, was given to Hillyard by Commodore Graham on the Friday morning.
"He is the kind of man whom men loathe and women like. He runs about London, gets a foot in here and there. You know what London is, even now in the midst of this war, with its inability to be surprised, and its indifference to strange things. You might walk down Regent Street dressed up as a Cherokee Indian, feathers and tomahawk and all, and how many Cockneys would take the trouble to turn round and look at you twice? It was pretty easy for Escobar to slip about unnoticed."
Commodore Graham bent his head over the case of tubes which Hillyard had brought with him.
"We'll have a look-out kept for these things. There have been none of them in England up till now."
Martin Hillyard returned to the personality of Mario Escobar.
"Did you suspect him before?" he asked.
Commodore Graham pushed the cigarettes towards Hillyard.
"Scotland Yard has kept an eye on him. That sort of adventurer is always dangerous."
He rang the bell, and on Miss Cheyne's appearance called for what information the office had concerning Mario Escobar. Miss Cheyne returned with a book in which Escobar's dossier was included.
"Here he is," said Graham, and Hillyard, moving across to the bureau, followed Graham's forefinger across the written page. He was agent for the Compania de Navigacion del Sur d'Espana—a German firm on the black list, headquarters at Alicante. Escobar severed his connection with the company on the outbreak of war.
Graham raised his head to comment on the action.
"That, of course, was camouflage. But it checked suspicion for a time. Suspicion was first aroused," and he resumed reading again, "by his change of lodging. He lived in a small back bedroom in a boarding-house in Clarence Street, off Westbourne Grove, and concealed his address, having his letters addressed to his club, until February, 1915, upon which date he moved into a furnished flat in Maddox Street. Nothing further, however, happened to strengthen that suspicion until, in the autumn of that year, a letter signed Mario was intercepted by the censor. It was sent to a Diego Perez, the Director of a fruit company at Murcia, for Emma Grutsner."
"You sent me a telegram about her," exclaimed Hillyard, "in November."
Commodore Graham's forefinger travelled along the written lines and stopped at the number and distinguishing sign of the telegram, sent and received.
"Yes," continued Graham. "Here's your answer. 'Emma Grutzner is the governess in a Spanish family at Torrevieja, and she goes occasionally, once a month or so, to the house of Diego Perez in Murcia.'"
"Yes, yes! I routed that out," said Hillyard. "But I hadn't an idea that Mario Escobar was concerned in it."
"That wasn't mentioned?" asked the Commodore.
"No. I already knew, you see, of B45. If just a word had been added that it was Mario who was writing to Emma Grutzner we might have identified him months ago."
"Yes," answered Graham soothingly and with a proper compunction. He was not unused to other fiery suggestions from his subordinates that if only the reasons for his telegrams and the information on which his questions were based, were sent out with the questions themselves, better results in quicker time could be obtained. Telegrams, however, were going out and coming in all day; a whole array of cipherers and decipherers lived in different rookeries in London. Commodore Graham's activities embraced the high and the narrow seas, great Capitals and little tucked-away towns and desolate stretches of coast where the trade-winds blew. No doubt full explanations would have led in many cases to more satisfactory conclusions. But fuller explanations were out of all possibility. Even with questions fined down to the last succinct syllable the cables groaned. None of the objections were raised, however, by Commodore Graham. It was his business to keep men like Hillyard who were serving him well to their own considerable cost, in a good humour. Remorse was the line, not argument.
"What a pity! I am sorry," protested the Commodore. "It's my fault! There's nothing else to be said. I am to blame about it."
Martin Hillyard began to feel some compunction that he had ever suggested a fault in the composition of the telegram. But then, it was his business not to betray any such tenderness.
"If we could have in the future a little more information from London, it would save us a good deal of time," he said stonily. "Sometimes a surname is hurled at us, and will we find him, please, and cable home all details?"
"Yes, that is very wrong," the Commodore agreed. "We will have that changed." Then a bright idea appeared to occur to him. His face lighted up. "After all, in this instance the mistake hasn't done any real harm. For we have got our friend Mario Escobar now, and without these tubes and this letter from Berlin about the use of them and Jose Medina's account of the conversation in the next room we shouldn't have got him. The German governess wasn't enough. He's, after all, a neutral. Besides, there was nothing definite in his letter. But now——"
"Now you can deal with him?" asked Hillyard eagerly.
"To be sure," replied the Commodore. "We have no proof here to put him on his trial. But we have reasonable ground for believing him to be in communication with our enemies for the purpose of damaging us, and that's quite enough to lock him up until the end of the war."
He reached out his hand for the telephone and asked for a number.
"I am ringing up Scotland Yard," he said to Hillyard over the top of the instrument; and immediately Hillyard heard a tiny voice speaking as if summoned from another planet.
"Hallo!" cried Graham. "Is that you, A.C.? You remember Mario Escobar? Good. I have Hillyard here from the Mediterranean with a clear case. I'll come over and see you."
Mr. "A.C.", whose real name was Adrian Carruthers, thereupon took up the conversation at the other end of the line. The lines deepened upon the Commodore's forehead as he listened. Then he turned to Hillyard, and swore softly and whole-heartedly.
"Mario Escobar has vanished."
"But I saw him myself," Hillyard exclaimed. "I saw him in London."
"On Monday afternoon."
Graham lifted the mouthpiece to his lips again.
"Wait a bit, A.C. Hillyard saw the man in London on Monday afternoon."
Again A.C. spoke at the other end from an office in Scotland Yard. Graham put down the instrument with a bang and hung up the receiver.
"He vanished yesterday. Could he have seen you?"
Hillyard shook his head.
"I think not."
"Oh, we'll get him, of course. He can't escape from the country. And we will get him pretty soon," Graham declared. He looked out of the window on to the river. "I wonder what in the world alarmed him, since it wasn't you?" he speculated slowly.
But both Scotland Yard and Commodore Graham were out of their reckoning for once. Mario Escobar was not alarmed at all. He had packed his bag, taken the tube to his terminus, bought his ticket and gone off in a train. Only no one had noticed him go; and that was all there was to it.
LADY SPLAY'S PREOCCUPATIONS
"It's a good race to leave alone, Miranda," said Dennis Brown. "But if you want to back something, I should put a trifle on Kinky Jane."
"Thank you, Dennis," Miranda answered absently. She was standing upon the lawn at Gatwick with her face towards the line of bookmakers upon the far side of the railings. These men were shouting at the full frenzy of their voices, in spite of the heat and the dust. The ring was crowded, and even the enclosure more than usually full.
"But you won't get any price," Harold Jupp continued, and he waved an indignant arm towards the bookmakers. "I never saw such a crowd of pinchers in my life."
"Thank you, Harold," Miranda replied politely. She was aware that he was advising her, but the nature of the advice did not reach her mind. She was staring steadily in front of her.
Dennis Brown and Harold Jupp looked at one another in alarm. They knew well that sibylline look on the face of Miranda Brown. She was awaiting the moment of inspiration. She was all wrapped up in expectation of it. At times she glanced at her race-card, whilst a thoughtful frown puckered her pretty forehead, as though the name of the winning filly might leap out in letters of gold.
Dennis shook his head dolefully. For the one thing sure and certain was that the fatal moment of inspiration would come to Miranda in time to allow her to reach the railings before the start. Suddenly a name uttered by an apoplectic gentleman in a voice breaking with fine passion reached her ears, with the odds attached to it of nine to one.
Miranda's face cleared of all its troubles.
"Oh, why didn't I think of that before?" she said in an extremity of self-reproach. She walked straight to the apoplectic gentleman, followed by the unhappy pair of scientific punters.
"Callow Girl is nine to one, isn't it?"
The apoplectic gentleman smiled winningly.
"To you, missie."
"I'll have ten pounds on it," she said, and did not hear the gasp of her husband behind her. She made a note of the bet in her little pocket-book.
"That's ninety pounds, anyway," she said, turning to her companions. "They will just buy that simple little Callot frock with the embroidery."
Yes, racing was as easy as that to Miranda Brown. She wanted a simple little Callot frock which would cost ninety pounds, and Callow Girl was obviously marked out to win it for her.
"Then I shall be a Callot girl," she said gaily, and as neither of her companions enjoyed her witticism she stamped her small foot in vexation.
"Oh, how dull you both are!" she cried.
"Well, you see," Dennis rejoined, "we've had rather a bad day."
"So have I," returned Miranda indignantly. "Yet I keep up my spirits."
A look of blank amazement overspread the face of Dennis Brown. He gazed around as one who should say, "Did you ever see anything so amazing outside the Ark?"
Miranda corrected her remark with a laugh.
"Well, I mean I haven't won as much as I should have if I had backed winners." For she had really mastered the science of the race-course. She knew how to go racing. Her husband paid her losses and she kept her winnings.
Harold Jupp took her seriously by the arm.
"You ought to go into a home, Miranda," he advised. "You really ought. That little head was never meant for all this weighty thought."
Miranda walked across to the little stone terrace which looks down the course.
"Don't be foolish, Harold, but go and collect Colonel Luttrell if you can find him, whilst I see my filly win," she said. "Dennis has already gone to find the car and we propose to start immediately this race is over."
Miranda ascended the grass slope and saw the fillies canter down towards the starting post. From the chatter about her she gathered that the odds on Callow Girl had shortened. It was understood that a sum of money had been laid on her at the last moment. She was favourite before the flag was dropped and won by half a length. Miranda ran joyously down the slope.
"What did I tell you, Harold? Aren't I wonderful? And have you found Colonel Luttrell? You know Millie told us to look out for him?" she cried all in a breath.
Luttrell had written to Lady Splay to say that he would try to motor to Gatwick in time for the last races; and that he would look out for Jupp and Dennis Brown, whom he had already met earlier in the week at a dinner party given by Martin Hillyard.
"There's no sign of him," Harold Jupp answered.
There were two more races, but the party from Rackham Park did not wait for them. They drove over the flat country through Crawley and Horsham and came to the wooded roads between high banks where the foliage met overhead, and to the old stone bridges over quiet streams. Harold Jupp was home from Egypt, Dennis Brown from Salonika, and as the great downs, with their velvet forests, seen now over a thick hedge, now in an opening of branches like the frame of a locket, the marvel of the English countryside in summer paid them in full for their peril and endurance.
"I have a fortnight, Miranda," said Dennis, dropping a hand upon his wife's. "Think of it!"
"My dear, I have been thinking of nothing else for months," she said softly. Terrors there had been, nights and days of them, terrors there would be, but she had a fortnight now, perfect in its season, and in the meeting of old friends upon familiar ground—a miniature complete in beauty, like the glimpses of the downs seen through the openings amongst the boughs.
"Yes, a whole fortnight," she cried and laughed, and just for a second turned her head away, since just for a second the tears glistened in her eyes.
The car turned and twisted through the puzzle of the Petworth streets and mounted on to the Midhurst road. The three indefatigable race-goers found Lady Splay sitting with Martin Hillyard in the hall of Rackham Park.
"You had a good day, I hope," she said.
"It was wonderful," exclaimed Dennis Brown. "We didn't make any money except Miranda. But that didn't matter."
"All our horses were down the course," Harold Jupp explained. "They weren't running in their form at all"; and he added cheerfully: "But the war may be over before the winter, and then we'll go chasing and get it all back."
Millicent Splay rang for tea, just as Joan Whitworth came into the hall.
"You didn't see Colonel Luttrell then?" asked Lady Splay.
"He'll come down later then." She had an eye for Joan Whitworth as she spoke, but Joan was so utterly indifferent as to whether Colonel Luttrell would arrive or not that she could not stifle a sigh. She had gathered Luttrell into the party with some effort and now it seemed her effort was to be fruitless. Joan persisted in her mood of austere contempt for the foibles of the world. She was dressed in a gown of an indeterminate shade between drab and sage-green, which did its best to annul her. She had even come to sandals. There they were now sticking out beneath the abominable gown.
"She can't ruin her complexion," thought Millicent Splay. "That's one thing. But if she could, she would. Oh, I would love to smack her!"
Joan, quite unaware of Millie Splay's tingling fingers and indignant eyes, sat reading "Ferishtah's Fancies." Other girls might set their caps at the soldiers. Joan had got to be different. She had even dallied with the pacifists. Martin Hillyard had carried away so close a recollection of her on that afternoon when she had driven him through the golden sunset over Duncton Hill and of the brave words she had then spoken that he had to force himself to realise that this was indeed she.
Millicent Splay had three preoccupations that afternoon but none pressed upon her with so heavy a load of anxiety as her preoccupation concerning Joan Whitworth.
Martin crossed the room to Joan and sat upon the couch beside her.
"Didn't I see you in London, Miss Whitworth, on Monday afternoon?" he asked.
Joan met his gaze steadily.
"Did you? It was possible. I was in London on Monday. Where did you think you saw me?"
"Coming out of a picture gallery in Green Street."
Joan did not flinch, nor drop her eyes from his.
"Yes, you saw me," she replied. Then with a challenge in her voice she added distinctly, so that the words reached, as they were meant to reach, every one in that room. "I was with Mario Escobar."
The room suddenly grew still. Two years ago, Martin Hillyard reflected, Harold Jupp or Dennis would have chaffed her roundly about her conquest, and she would have retorted with good humour. Now, no one spoke, but a little sigh, a little movement of uneasiness came from Millie Splay. Joan did not take her eyes from Hillyard's face. But the blood mounted slowly over her throat and cheeks.
"Well?" she asked, and the note of challenge was a trifle more audible in her quiet voice. And since he was challenged, Hillyard answered:
"He is a German spy."
The words smote upon all in the room like a blow. Joan herself grew pale. Then she replied:
"People say that nowadays of every foreigner."
The moment of embarrassment was prolonged to a full minute—during which no one spoke. Then to the relief of every one, Sir Chichester Splay entered the hall. He had been sitting all day upon the Bench. He had to attend the Flower Show in Chichester during the next week. Really the life of a country notable was a dog's life.
"You are going to make a speech at Chichester, Sir Christopher?" Jupp inquired.
"Oh no, my boy," replied Sir Chichester. "Make a speech indeed! And in this weather! Nothing would induce me. Me for the back benches, as our cousins across the Atlantic would say."
He spoke pompously, yet with a certain gratification as though Harold Jupp had asked him to dignify the occasion with a speech.
"Have the evening papers not arrived yet?" he asked, looking with suspicious eyes on Dennis Brown.
"No, I am not sitting on them this time," said Dennis.
"And Colonel Luttrell?"
After the evening papers, Sir Chichester thought politely of his guests. Millie Splay replied with hesitation. While the others of the company were shaking off their embarrassment, she was sinking deeper into hers.
"Colonel Luttrell has not come yet. Nor—nor—the other guest who completes our party."
Her voice trailed off lamentably into a plea for kind treatment and gentleness. Here was Millie Splay's second preoccupation. As it was Sir Chichester's passion to see his name printed in the papers, so it was Millie's to gather in the personages of the moment under her roof. She had promised that this party should be just a small one of old friends with Luttrell as the only new-comer. But personages were difficult to come by at this date, since they were either deep in work or out of the country altogether. They had to be brought down by a snap shot, and very often the bird brought down turned out to be a remarkably inferior specimen of his class. Millie Splay had been tempted and had fallen; and she was not altogether easy about the quality of her bird, now on its descent to her feet.
"I didn't know any one else was coming," said Sir Chichester, who really didn't care how much Lady Splay gratified her passion, so long as he got full satisfaction for his.
"No, nor any one else," said Dennis Brown severely. "He is a stranger."
"To you," replied Millie Splay, showing fight.
Harold Jupp advanced and planted himself firmly before her.
"Do you know him yourself, Lady Splay?" he asked.
"But of course I do," the poor lady exclaimed. "How absurd of you, Harold, to ask such a question! I met him at a party when Joan and I were in London at the beginning of this week." She caught again at her fleeting courage. "So I invited him, and he's coming this afternoon. I shall send the motor to meet him in an hour from now. So there's an end of the matter."
Harold Jupp shook his head sagely.
"We must see that the plate is all locked up safely to-night."
"There! I knew it would be like this," cried Millie Splay, wringing her hands. She remembered, from a war correspondent's article, that to attack is the only successful defence. She turned on Jupp.
"I won't be bullied by you, Harold! He's a most charming person, with really nice manners," she emphasised her praise of the absent guest, "and if only you will study him whilst he is here—all of you, you will be greatly improved at the end of your visit."
Harold Jupp was quite unimpressed by Millie Splay's outburst. He remained severely in front of her, judge, prosecutor and jury all in one, and all relentlessly against her.