The General hesitated.
“Well, what are they?”
“They are a little intangible, sir,” Thomson confessed, “but exceedingly important. Without any direct evidence, I have come to the conclusion that Captain Granet is a mysterious person and needs watching. As usual, we are in trouble with the civil authorities, and, to be frank with you, I am trying to strengthen my case.”
The General shrugged his shoulders.
“Very well,” he decided, “under the circumstances you have the right to know what my message meant. We sent Granet back because of a suspicion which may be altogether unjustifiable. The suspicion was there, however, and it was sufficiently strong for me to make up my mind that I should prefer not to have him back again. Now you shall know the facts very briefly. Granet was taken prisoner twice. No one saw him taken—as a matter of fact, both of the affairs were night attacks. He seemed suddenly to disappear—got too far ahead of his men, was his explanation. All I can say is that he was luckier than most of them. Anything wandering about loose in a British uniform—but there, I won’t go on with that. He came back each time with information as to what he had seen. Each time we planned an attack on the strength of that information. Each time that information proved to be misleading and our attack failed, costing us heavy losses. Of course, dispositions might have been changed since his observations were made, but there the fact remains. Further,” the General continued, filling his pipe slowly and pressing in the tobacco, “on the second occasion we had four hundred men thrown forward into the village of Ossray. They were moved in the pitch darkness, and silently. It was impossible for any word of their presence in Ossray to have been known to the Germans. Yet the night of Granet’s capture the village was shelled, and those who escaped were cut off and made prisoners. Follow me, Major?”
“Yes, sir!” Thomson acquiesced.
“Those are just the facts,” the General concluded. “Now on the other hand, Granet has handled his men well, shown great personal bravery, and has all the appearance of a keen soldier. I hate to do him a wrong even in my thoughts but there were others besides myself to whom these coincidences seemed amazing. We simply decided that they’d better give Granet a billet at home. That’s the reason of my message.”
“I am very much obliged to you, sir,” Thomson said slowly. “You have given me exactly the information which we desire.”
The General was called away for a moment to give some instructions to the young officer who was sitting in a distant corner of the room with a telephone band around his head. He signed to Thomson, however, to remain.
“Now that I have gratified your curiosity,” he said, when he returned, “perhaps you will gratify mine? Will you tell me just how you over in England have come to have suspicions of this man?”