A smouldering light flashed in Thomson’s eyes.
“Ambrose,” he declared, “you’re a brick. I sha’n’t forget this. Just find out at once if the Chief’s in his room, please.”
There followed half an hour of breathless happenings. From the Chief’s room Thomson hurried over to the Admiralty. Here he was taken by one of the men whom he had called to see, on to the flat roof, and they stood there, facing eastwards. Twilight was falling and there was scarcely a breath of air.
“It’s a perfect night,” the official remarked. “If they start at the right time, they’ll get here before any one can see them. All the same, we’re warning the whole coast, and our gun-stations will be served all night.”
“Shall we have a chance, do you think, of hitting any of them?” Thomson asked.
The sailor winked.
“There are a couple of gun-stations I know of not far from here,” he said. “I tell you they’ve got armament there which will make our friends tear their hair’ shells that burst in the air, mind, too, which you needn’t mind letting ’em have as quick as we can fire ’em off. I shall try and get on to one of those stations myself at midnight.”
“What time do you think they’d attack if they do get over?”
The other took out his watch and considered the subject.
“Of course,” he reflected, “they’ll want to make the most of the darkness, but I think what they’ll aim at chiefly is to get here unobserved. Therefore, I think they won’t start until it’s dark, probably from three or four different bases. That means they’ll be here a little before dawn. I shall just motor my people up to Harrow and get back again by midnight.”
Thomson left the Admiralty, a little later, and took a taxi to Berkeley Square. The servant hesitated a little at his inquiry.
“Miss Geraldine is in, sir, I believe,” he said. “She is in the morning-room at the moment.”
“I shall not keep her,” Thomson promised. “I know that it is nearly dinner-time.”
The man ushered him across the hall and threw open the door of the little room at the back of the stairs.
“Major Thomson, madam,” he announced.
Geraldine rose slowly from the couch on which she had been seated. Standing only a few feet away from her was Granet. The three looked at one another for a moment and no word was spoken. It was Geraldine who first recovered herself.
“Hugh!” she exclaimed warmly. “Why, you are another unexpected visitor!”
“I should not have come at such a time,” Thomson explained, “but I wanted just to have a word with you, Geraldine. If you are engaged, your mother would do.”
“I am not in the least engaged,” Geraldine assured him, “and I have been expecting to hear from you all day. I got back from Boulogne last night.”
“None the worse, I am glad to see,” Thomson remarked.
She shivered a little. Then she looked him full in the face and her eyes were full of unspoken things.