“Take this man in charge and watch him sharply until General Westerling sends for him!”
“And you will get justice from General Westerling!” It was Marta’s voice. In approaching she had unavoidably overheard part of the conversation. “Justice is his first characteristic!” she added as the hawk eyes turned their scrutiny into hers, which were calm and smiling.
Hugo had not seen Marta since he had been carried to the coachman’s quarters. Minna had visited him frequently, bearing inquiries from her mistress as well as custards. He had looked forward to a talk with Marta as a kindred spirit, yet it was difficult for him to reconcile the woman speaking now with the woman who had kissed him on the forehead. But he said nothing as he was marched away.
“Miss Galland!” exclaimed Bouchard in a way that said he knew her story. “Yes, that little monkey can depend on more justice than he deserves. The unanswerable evidence is on the chief of staff’s desk awaiting his arrival.”
Bouchard’s hawk eyes probed hers for an instant longer and seemed to find nothing to call further curiosity; then he lifted his cap and proceeded with his tour of inspection.
Marta smiled thoughtfully as she watched his receding figure, while her eyelashes narrowed and she inclined her head with a nod before she moved away in the direction of the tower. There was almost complete silence along the front. Since yesterday’s action, which had checked the guns commanding the range of the house, there had been little firing. She guessed that the lull was only a recess of preparation for the grand attack on the first line of permanent defence, and that probably this would follow Westerling’s arrival. He was due at four o’clock and he would be characteristically prompt to the minute.
“It must not be! Hugo Mallin is too fine a spirit to be sacrificed. I’ll go on my knees, if need be, to Westerling,” Marta was thinking as she paced back and forth in her room. On her knees to him! She stopped short, struck in revolt with a memory of the way he had looked at her once as she sat across the tea-table from him in the hotel reception-room. “No, I could not endure that except as a last resort. If ever there were a time to use all my wits it is now—to save Hugo Mallin, the one soldier who acted out the principles which I taught my children!”
TEA ON THE VERANDA AGAIN
As it lacked one minute to four when Hedworth Westerling, chief of staff in name as well as power now, alighted from the gray automobile that turned in at the Galland drive, the chauffeur thought well enough of himself to forget the crush of supplies and ambulances that had delayed His Excellency’s car for at least ninety seconds in the main street of the town. Though His Excellency had not occupied his new headquarters as soon as he expected, this could have no influence on results. If he had lost fifty thousand men on the first two days and two hundred thousand since the war had begun, should he allow this to disturb his well-being of body or mind? His well-being of body and mind meant the ultimate saving of lives.