He made his way down to the War Office at a little before ten o’clock. The streets were crowded with people and there were throngs surrounding each of the places where bombs had been dropped. Towards the Pall Mall Arch the people were standing in thousands, trying to get near the wreck of the huge Zeppelin, which completely blocked all the traffic through St. James’s Park. Thomson paused for a moment at the top of Trafalgar Square and looked around him. The words of the newspaper were indeed true. London had her scars, yet there was nothing in the faces of the people to show fear. If anything, there was an atmosphere all around of greater vitality, of greater intensity. The war had come a little nearer at last than the columns of the daily Press. It was the real thing with which even the every-day Londoner had rubbed shoulders. From Cockspur Street to Nelson’s Monument the men were lined up in a long queue, making their way to the recruiting office.
Admiral Conyers paid his usual morning visit to the Admiralty, lunched at his club and returned home that evening in a state of suppressed excitement. He found his wife and Geraldine alone and at once took up his favourite position on the hearth-rug.
“Amongst the other surprises of the last twenty-four hours,” he announced, “I received one to-day which almost took my breath away. It had reference to a person whom you both know.”
“Not poor Captain Granet?” Lady Conyers asked. “You read about him, of course?”
“Nothing to do with Granet, poor fellow,” the Admiral continued. “Listen, I was walking, if you please, for a few yards with the man who is practically responsible to-day for the conduct of the war. At the corner of Pall Mall we came face to face with Thomson. I nodded and we were passing on, when to my astonishment my companion stopped and held out both his hands. ‘Thomson, my dear fellow,’ he said, ’I came round to your rooms to-day but you were engaged three or four deep. Not another word save this—thanks! When we write our history, the country will know what it owes you. At present, thanks!’”
“Major Thomson?” Lady Conyers gasped.
“Hugh?” Geraldine echoed.
The Admiral smiled.
“We passed on,” he continued, “and I said to his lordship—’Wasn’t that Thomson, the Inspector of Field Hospitals?’ He simply laughed at me. ‘My dear Conyers,’ he said, ’surely you knew that was only a blind? Thomson is head of the entire Military Intelligence Department. He has the rank of a Brigadier-General waiting for him when he likes to take it. He prefers to remain as far as possible unknown and unrecognised, because it helps him with his work.’ Now listen! You’ve read in all the papers of course, that we had warning of what was coming last night, that the reason we were so successful was because every light in London had been extinguished and every gun-station was doubly manned? Well, the warning we received was due to Thomson and no one else!”