“Very well, I will do that. And I shall meet you at the station in the morning?”
“No. My party will go as far as Ludd by motor. You will see us join the train there. Go now, while the guard is out of the way.”
I could not see, but I heard Yussuf Dakmar get up and go. He had hardly time to get out of earshot when Grim’s voice broke the silence again:
“You there, Ramsden?”
Instead of answering I approached.
“Did you hear what was said?” he asked.
“Yes. Why didn’t you arrest both the blackguards and have done with it?”
“Better the evil that we know...” he answered, with the familiar smile in his voice. “The important thing is to sidetrack the French agent, who could put fifty ruffians on our trail instead of one.”
“Why not send a provost-marshal’s guard to the French agent, then?”
“Can’t do that. France and Great Britain are allies. Besides, they might retaliate by spiflicating our agent in Damascus. Wise folk who live in glass-houses don’t throw stones. What I think has been accomplished is to reduce our probable risk down to Yussuf Dakmar, who’s a mean squib at best; and I think we’ve drawn suspicion clear away from Mabel Ticknor. All that remains is for me to go to that room where you see the light burning and discuss matters with the chief.”
“If he’s awake he’s lonely!” said I; and I told Grim of our experience inside the building.
“Yes,” he said. “Governments are all like that. They talk glibly of the ship of state; but a ship run in the same way would pile up or sink the first night out. You’d better go home and get an hour’s sleep; I’ll call you at seven.”
“We’ll take turns sleeping on the train,” I answered. “Come first and rescue Jeremy. I think the guard pinched him. Say, did you intend one of us to go and decoy the guard away that time you raised your voice?”
“Sure. Recognized your voices—yours especially—when you passed, and heard you breathe as you crept back. You nearly spoilt the game by turning out the guard, but you saved it again handsomely.”
“It’s a marvel those Sikhs didn’t shoot Jeremy in the dark,” I answered.
“You bet it is,” said Grim. “I guess he’s too useful to be allowed to die just now.”
He hung his head, thinking, as we walked side by side. “That was a close shave—too close! Well, as you say, let’s go and rescue him.”
“You talk like a madman!”
Grim changed the plan a little at the last minute. Mabel Ticknor left Jerusalem by train, as agreed, but Narayan Singh was sent that way too, to keep an eye on her. He being a Sikh, could sit in the corridor without exciting comment, and being dressed for the part of a more or less prosperous trader, he could travel first class without having to answer questions or allay suspicion.