“The very last dispatches I had to deal with,” Sir Alfred continued, “made allusion to him. They don’t love some of his work in Berlin, I can tell you. What sort of a man is he, Ronnie? Can he be bought? A hundred thousand pounds would be a fortune to a man like that.”
“There is only one way of dealing with him,” Granet said fiercely. “I have tried it once. I expect I’ll have to try again.”
Sir Alfred leaned across the table.
“Don’t be rash, Ronnie,” he advised. “And yet, remember this. The man is a real danger, both to you and to me. He is the only man who has had anything to do with the Intelligence Department here, who is worth a snap of the fingers. Now go home, Ronnie. You came here—well, never mind what you were when you came here. You are going back an Englishman. If they won’t send you to the Front again, bother them for some work here, and stick to it. You will get no reports nor any visitors. I have strangled the whole system. You and I are cut loose from it. We are free-lances. Mind, I still believe that in the end German progress and German culture will dominate the world, but it may not be in our day. It just happens that we have struck a little too soon. Let us make the best of things, Ronnie. You have many years of life. I have some of unabated power. Let us be thankful that we were wise enough to stop in time.”
Granet rose to his feet. His uncle watched him curiously.
“You’re young, of course, Ronnie,” he continued indulgently. “You haven’t yet fitted your burden on to your shoulders properly. England or Germany, you have some of both in you. After all, it isn’t a vital matter under which banner you travel. It isn’t quite like that with me. I have lived here all my life and I wouldn’t care to live anywhere else, but that’s because I carry my own country with me. It’s English air I breathe but it’s a German heart I still carry with me. Good night, Ronnie! Remember about Thomson.”
The two men wrung hands and Granet made his way towards the door.
“About Thomson,” he repeated to himself, as the servant conducted him towards the door.
Ambrose announced a visitor, early on the following morning, with some show of interest.
“Captain Granet to see you, sir. We’ve a good many notes about him. Would you like the book?”
Thomson shook his head.
“Thank you,” he answered drily, “I have it in my desk but I think I can remember. Is he outside now?”
“Yes, sir! He said he wouldn’t keep you for more than a few minutes, if you could spare him a short interview.”
“Any luck last night?”
“I was up till three o’clock again. Once I thought I was on the track of it. I have come to the conclusion now that it’s one of those codes that depend upon shifting quantities. I shall start again to-night on a different idea. Shall I show Captain Granet in, sir?”