The door was suddenly opened. The Admiral put his head in.
“Sorry!” he apologised. “I thought I heard that young Granet was here.”
“He has been and gone, father,” Geraldine told him. “You’d better see what you can do with father,” she added, turning to Thomson.
“What’s wrong, eh? What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” the Admiral demanded.
“The fact is, Sir Seymour,” Thomson explained, “we’ve had notice—not exactly notice, but we’ve decoded a secret dispatch which gives us reason to believe that a Zeppelin raid will be attempted on London during the next twenty-four hours. I came round to try and induce Geraldine to have you all move away until the thing’s over.”
“I’ll be damned if I do!” the Admiral grunted. “What, sneak off and leave five or six million others who haven’t had the tip, to see all the fun? Not I! If what you say is true, Thomson,—and I am going straight back to the Admiralty,—I shall find my way on to one of the air stations myself, and the women can stay at home and get ready to be useful.”
Geraldine passed her hand through her father’s arm.
“That’s the sort of people we are,” she laughed, turning to Thomson. “All the same, Hugh, it was very nice of you to come,” she added. “I couldn’t see us scuttling away into the country, you know. I shall go round and persuade Olive to stay with me. I am expecting to return to Boulogne almost at once, to the hospital there, to bring some more wounded back. I may get a little practice here.”
Thomson picked up his hat.
“Well,” he said quietly, “I cannot complain of your decision. After all, it is exactly what I expected.”
He made his adieux and departed. The Admiral sniffed as he glanced after him.
“Very good chap, Thomson,” he remarked, “but he doesn’t quite understand. I bet you that fine young fellow Granet would never have suggested our running away like frightened sheep! Come along, my dear, we’ll go and dine.”
About three o’clock the next morning Thomson was awakened by a light touch upon his shoulder. He sprang up from the couch upon which he had thrown himself. Ambrose was standing over him. He was still in his room at the War Office, and fully dressed.
“Mr. Gordon Jones has rung up from Downing Street, sir,” he announced. “He is with the Prime Minister. They want to know if you could step across.”
“I’ll go at once,” Thomson agreed,—“just sponge my eyes and have a brush up. Nothing else fresh, Ambrose?”
“Nothing at all sir,” the young man replied. “All the newspapers in London have rung up but of course we have not answered any of them. You’ll be careful outside, please? There isn’t a single light anywhere, and the streets are like pitch. A man tried to use an electric torch on the other side of the way just now, and they shot him. There’s a double line of sentries all round from Whitehall corner.”