“Granet,” he said, “that sort of thing won’t do. You know now what I think of you. Besides these little incidents which I have related, you are suspected of having, in the disguise of an American clergyman, delivered a message from the German Government to an English Cabinet Minister, and, to come to more personal matters, I myself suspect you of having made two attempts on my life. It is my firm belief that you are nothing more nor less than a common and dangerous German spy. Keep back!”
The veins were standing out like whipcord on Granet’s flushed forehead. He swayed on his feet. Twice he had seemed as though he would spring at his opponent.
“Now listen to me,” Thomson continued. “On Monday I am going from Southampton to Boulogne for forty-eight hours, to attend a court martial there. There is only one decent thing you can do. You know what that is. I’ll have you exchanged, if you are willing, into a line regiment with your present rank. Your colonel will have a hint. It will be your duty to meet the first German bullet you can find. If you are content with that, I’ll arrange it for you. If not—”
Major Thomson paused. There was a queer twisted smile at the corners of his lips.
“If not,” he concluded, “there is one more little note to add in this book and the account will be full. You know now the terms, Captain Granet, on which you can go to the Front. I will give you ten days to consider.”
“If I accept an offer like this,” Granet protested, “I shall be pleading guilty to all the rubbish you have talked.”
“If it weren’t for the fact,” Major Thomson told him sternly, “that you have worn his Majesty’s uniform, that you are a soldier, and that the horror of it would bring pain to every man who has shared with you that privilege, I have quite enough evidence here to bring your career to a disgraceful end. I give you your chance, not for your own sake but for the honour of the Army. What do you say?”
Granet picked up his hat.
“I’ll think it over,” he muttered.
He walked out of the room without any attempt at farewell, pushed his way along the corridors, down the steps and out into Whitehall. His face was distorted by a new expression. A sudden hatred of Thomson had blazed up in him. He was at bay, driven there by a relentless enemy, the man who had tracked him down, as he honestly believed, to some extent through jealousy. The thoughts framed themselves quickly in his mind. With unseeing eyes he walked across Trafalgar Square and made his way to his club in Pall Mall. Here he wrote a few lines to Isabel Worth, regretting that he was called out of town on military business for forty-eight hours. Afterwards he took a taxi and called at his rooms, walked restlessly up and down while Jarvis threw a few clothes into a bag, changed his own apparel for a rough tweed suit, and drove to Paddington. A few minutes later he took his place in the Cornish Express.