“Precisely,” he went on. “You have guessed the truth, I can see. We have been able, within the last few hours, to decode that very interesting message which reached your uncle some little time ago.”
Geraldine’s bewilderment increased. Granet’s almost stupefied silence seemed to amaze her.
“Hugh, what does it all mean?” she cried. “Is Captain Granet in trouble because he has come here to warn me of something? He has not said a word except to beg me to go down into the country tonight.”
“And he as begged you to do that,” Thomson said, “because he is one of those privileged few who have been warned that to-night or to-morrow morning is the time selected for the Zeppelin raid on London of which we have heard so much. Oh! He knows all about it, and his uncle, and a great many of the guests they have gathered together. They’ll all be safe enough at Reigate! Come, Captain Granet, what have you to say about it?”
Granet drew himself up. He looked every inch a soldier, and, curiously enough, he seemed in his bearing and attitude to be respecting the higher rank by virtue of which Thomson had spoken.
“To-morrow, as you have reminded me, is my tenth day, sir,” he said. “I shall report myself at your office at nine o’clock. Good-bye, Miss Conyers! I hope that even though I have failed, Major Thomson may persuade you to change your mind.”
He left the room. Geraldine was so amazed that she made no movement towards ringing the bell. She turned instead towards Thomson.
“What does it mean? You must tell me!” she insisted. “I am not a child.”
“It means that what I have told you all along is the truth,” Thomson replied earnestly. “You thought, Geraldine, that I was narrow and suspicious. I had powers and an office and responsibilities, too, which you knew nothing of. That young man who has just left the room is in the pay of Germany. So is his uncle.”
“What, Sir Alfred Anselman?” she exclaimed. “Are you mad, Hugh?”
“Not in the least,” he assured her. “These are bald facts.”
“But Sir Alfred Anselman! He has done such wonderful things for the country. They all say that he ought to have been in the Cabinet. Hugh, you can’t be serious!”
“I am so far serious,” Thomson declared grimly, “that an hour ago we succeeded in decoding a message from Holland to Sir Alfred Anselman, advising him to leave London to-day. We are guessing what that means. We may be right and we may be wrong. We shall see. I come to beg you to leave the city for twenty-four hours. I find Granet on the same errand.”
“But they may have warned him—some personal friend may have done it,” she insisted. “He is a man with world-wide friends and world-wide connections.”
“They why didn’t he bring the warning straight to the Admiralty?” Thomson argued. “If he were a patriotic Englishman, do you think that any other course was open to him? It won’t do, Geraldine. I know more about Captain Granet than I am going to tell you at this moment. Shall we leave that subject? Can’t we do something to persuade your mother to take you a little way from town? You can collect some of your friends, if you like. You ought to take Olive, for instance. We don’t want a panic, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t tell any of your friends quietly.”