Monsieur Guillot extended his hand.
“My young friend,” he said, “in the years to come you and I shall perhaps meet in our wonderful Paris, and if I may not tell the world so, I shall yet feel, as we look upon her greatness, that you and I together have saved France. Adieu!”
Granet made his way along the empty corridor, rang for the lift and descended into the hall. A smile was upon his lips. The torch at last was kindled! In the hall of the hotel he came across a group of assembling guests just starting for the luncheon room. A tall, familiar figure stepped for a moment on one side. His heart gave a little jump. Geraldine held out her pearl-gloved hand.
“Captain Granet,” she said, “I wanted to tell you something.”
“Yes?” he answered breathlessly.
She glanced towards where the little group of people were already on their way to the stairs.
“I must not stay for a second,” she continued, dropping her voice, “but I wanted to tell you—I am no longer engaged to Major Thomson. Goodbye!”
A rush of words trembled upon his lips but she was gone. He watched her slim, graceful figure as she passed swiftly along the vestibule and joined her friends. He even heard her little laugh as she greeted one of the men who had waited for her.
“Decidedly,” Granet said to himself triumphantly as he turned towards the door, “this is my day!”
Monsieur Guillot was a man of emotional temperament. For more than an hour after Granet had left him, he paced up and down his little room, stood before the high windows which overlooked the Thames, raised his hands above his head and gazed with flashing eyes into the future—such a future! All his life he had been a schemer, his eyes turned towards the big things, yet with himself always occupying the one glorified place in the centre of the arena. He was, in one sense of the word, a patriot, but it was the meanest and smallest sense. There was no great France for him in which his was not the commanding figure. In every dream of that wonderful future, of a more splendid and triumphant France, he saw himself on the pinnacle of fame, himself acclaimed by millions the strong great man, the liberator. France outside himself lived only as a phantasy. And now at last his chance had come. The minutes passed unnoticed as he built his way up into the future. He was shrewd and calculating, he took note of the pitfalls he must avoid. One by one he decided upon the men whom gradually and cautiously he would draw into his confidence. Finally he saw the whole scheme complete, the bomb-shell thrown, France hysterically casting laurels upon the man who had brought her unexpected peace.
The door-bell rang. He answered it a little impatiently. A slim, fashionably dressed young Frenchman stood there, whose face was vaguely familiar to him.