Thomson assented, and a few minutes later Granet entered the room. He made no attempt to shake hands or to take a seat. Thomson looked at him coldly.
“Well,” he asked, abruptly, “what can I do for you?”
“I don’t suppose you can do anything,” Granet replied, “but I am going to spend to-day and to-morrow, too, if necessary, in this place, bothering every one I ever heard of. You have some influence, I know. Get me a job out of this country.”
Thomson raised his eyebrows slightly.
“You want to go abroad again?”
“Anywhere—anyhow! If they won’t have me back in France, although heaven knows why not, can I be sent to the Dardanelles, or even East Africa? I’ll take out Territorials, if you like. I’ll do anything sooner than be ordered to one of these infernal country towns to train young tradespeople. If I don’t worry, I know I shall get a home appointment directly, and I don’t want it.”
Thomson studied his visitor, for a moment, carefully.
“So you want to be fighting again, eh?” he remarked.
“I do,” Granet answered firmly.
Major Thomson drew a little locked book towards him, unfastened it with a key from his chain and held his hand over the page. It was noticeable that his right hand slipped open a few inches the right-hand drawer of his desk.
“You have come to me, Captain Granet,” he said, “to ask my aid in getting you a job. Well, if I could give you one where I was perfectly certain that you would be shot in your first skirmish, I would give it to you, with pleasure. Under present conditions, however, it is my impression that the further you are from any British fighting force, the better it will be for the safety and welfare of that force.”
Granet’s face was suddenly rigid. He had turned a little paler and his eyes flashed.
“What do you mean?” he demanded.
Thomson had removed his hand and was glancing at the open page.
“There are a few notes here about you,” he said. “I will not read them all but I will give you some extracts. There is your full name and parentage, tracing out the amount of foreign blood which I find is in your veins. There is a verbatim account of a report made to me by your Brigadier-General, in which it seems that in the fighting under his command you were three times apparently taken prisoner, three times you apparently escaped; the information which you brought back led to at least two disasters; the information which exactly at the time you were absent seemed to come miraculously into the hands of the enemy, resulted in even greater trouble for us.”
“Do you insinuate, then, that I am a traitor?” Granet asked fiercely.
“I insinuate nothing,” Thomson replied quietly. “So far as you and I are concerned, we may as well, I presume, understand one another. You are, without doubt, aware that my post as inspector of hospitals is a blind. I am, as a matter of fact, chief of the Intelligence Department, with a rank which at present I do not choose to use. I have been myself to your Brigadier-General and beought home this report, and if it is any satisfaction to you to know it, I brought also an urgent request that you should not be allowed to rejoin any part of the force under his control.”