“I was going to suggest it, but you seemed so weary that I hadn’t the heart,” said Lanstron.
“Just the thing—the mothers, wives, and sweethearts!” declared the vice-chief.
“I’m not a bit tired now!” Marta assured them brightly. “I’m fresh for the fight again.”
“Another thing,” added Lanstron, “we ought to have the backing of the corps and division commanders.”
“Precisely,” agreed the vice-chief. “We want to make sure of this thing. We’d look silly if the old premier ordered the army on and left us high and dry; and it would mean certain disaster. Shall I get them on the telephone?”
“Yes,” said Lanstron.
It was long after midnight when the collaborative composition of that famous despatch was finished.
“Now I’m really tired, Lanny,” said Marta as she arose from the table. “I can think only of prayers—joyful little prayers of thanks rising to the stars.”
She slipped her arm through his. As they moved toward the door the chiefs of divisions, keeping to the etiquette that best expressed their soldierly respect, saluted her.
“If this were told, few would believe it; nor would they believe many other things in the inner history of armies which are forever held secret,” thought the vice-chief.
Outside, the stars were twinkling to acknowledge those little prayers of thanks, and the night was sweet and peaceful, while the army slept.
THE PEACE OF WISDOM
The sea of people packed in the great square of the Brown capital made a roar like the thunder of waves against a breakwater at sight of a white spot on a background of gray stone, which was the head of an eminent statesman.
“It looks as if our government would last the week out,” the premier chuckled as he returned to his colleagues at the cabinet table.
As yet only the brief bulletins whose publication in the newspapers had aroused the public to a frenzy had been received. The cabinet, as eager for details as the press, had remained up, awaiting a fuller official account.
“We have a long communication in preparation,” the staff had telegraphed. “Meanwhile, the following is submitted.”
“Good Heavens! It’s not from the army! It’s from the grave!” exclaimed the premier as he read the first paragraphs of Partow’s message. “Of all the concealed dynamite ever!” he gasped as he grasped the full meaning of the document, that piece of news, as staggering as the victory itself, that had lain in the staff vaults for years. “Well, we needn’t give it out to the press; at least, not until after mature consideration,” he declared when they had reached the end of Partow’s appeal. “Now we’ll hear what the staff has to say for itself after gratifying the wish of a dead man,” he added as a messenger gave him another sheet.
“The staff, in loyalty to its dead leader who made victory possible, and in loyalty to the principles of defence for which the army fought, begs to say to the nation—”