Norgate’s face showed little emotion. Selingman nodded ponderously.
“Surely,” Norgate asked, “Germany will wait for some reasonable pretext?”
“She will find one through Austria,” Selingman replied. “That is simple. Mind, though this may seem to you a war wholly of aggression, and though I do not hesitate to say that we have been prepared for years for a war of aggression, there are other factors which will come to light. Only a few months ago, an entire Russian scheme for the invasion of Germany next spring was discovered by one of our Secret Service agents.”
“One question more,” he said. “Supposing Germany takes the plunge, and then England, contrary to anticipation, decides to support France?”
Selingman’s face darkened. A sudden purposeless anger shook his voice.
“We choose a time,” he declared, “when England’s hands are tied. She is in no position to go to war with any one. I have many reports reaching me every day. I have come to the firm conclusion that we have reached the hour. England will not fight.”
“And what will happen to her eventually?” Norgate asked.
Selingman smiled slowly.
“When France is crushed,” he explained, “and her northern ports garrisoned by us, England must be taught just a little lesson, the lesson of which you and I have spoken, the lesson which will be for her good. That is what we have planned. That is how things will happen. Hush! There is some one coming. It is finished, this. Come to me to-morrow morning. There is work for you.”
Later on that evening, Norgate walked up and down the platform at Charing-Cross with Anna. Her arm rested upon his; her expression was animated and she talked almost eagerly. Norgate carried himself like a man who has found a new thing in life. He was feeling none of the depression of the last few days.
“Dear,” Anna begged, “you won’t forget, will you, all the time that I am away, that you must never for a single moment relax your caution? Selingman speaks of trust. Well, he gambles, it is true, yet he protects himself whenever he can. You will not move from early morning until you go to bed at night, without being watched. To prove what I say—you see the man who is reading an evening paper under the gas-lamp there? Yes? He is one of Selingman’s men. He is watching us now. More than once he has been at our side. Scraps of conversation, or anything he can gather, will go back to Selingman, and Selingman day by day pieces everything together. Don’t let there be a single thing which he can lay hold of.”
“I’ll lead him a dance,” Norgate promised, nodding a little grimly. “As for that, Anna dear, you needn’t be afraid. If ever I had any wits, they’ll be awake during the next few weeks.”