“That’s the type of young soldier who’s going to carry us through, if any one can,” Major Thomson agreed cheerfully.
She suddenly clutched at his arm.
“Hugh,” she exclaimed, pointing to a placard which a newsboy was carrying, “that is the one thing I cannot bear, the one thing which I think if I were a man would turn me into a savage!”
They both paused and read the headlines—
Passenger steamer torpedoed without warning in the Irish sea. Twenty-two lives lost.
“That is the sort of thing,” she groaned, “which makes one long to be not a man but a god, to be able to wield thunderbolts and to deal out hell!”
“Good for you, Gerry,” a strong, fresh voice behind them declared. “That’s my job now. Didn’t you hear us shouting after you, Olive and I? Look!”
Her brother waved a telegram.
“You’ve got your ship?” Thomson inquired.
“I’ve got what I wanted,” the young man answered enthusiastically. “I’ve got a destroyer, one of the new type—forty knots an hour, a dear little row of four-inch guns, and, my God! something else, I hope, that’ll teach those murderers a lesson,” he added, shaking his fist towards the placard.
Geraldine laid her hand upon her brother’s arm.
“When do you join, Ralph?”
“To-morrow night at Portsmouth,” he replied. “I’m afraid we shall be several days before we are at work. It’s the Scorpion they’re giving me, Gerald—or the mystery ship, as they call it in the navy.”
“Why?” she asked.
His rather boyish face, curiously like his sister’s, was suddenly transformed.
“Because we’ve got a rod in pickle for those cursed pirates—”
“Conyers!” Thomson interrupted.
The young man paused in his sentence. Thomson was looking towards him with a slight frown upon his forehead.
“Don’t think I’m a fearful old woman,” he said. “I know we are all rather fed up with these tales of spies and that sort of thing, but do you think it’s wise to even open your lips about a certain matter?”
“What the dickens do you know about it?” Conyers demanded.
“Nothing,” Thomson assured him hastily, “nothing at all. I am only going by what you said yourself. If there is any device on the Scorpion for dealing with these infernal craft, I’d never breathe a word about it, if I were you. I’d put out to sea with a seal upon my lips, even before Geraldine here and Miss Moreton.”
The young man’s cheeks were a little flushed.
“Perhaps you’re right,” he admitted. “I was a little over-excited. To get the Scorpion was more, even, than I had dared to hope for. Still, before the girls it didn’t seem to matter very much. There are no spies, anyhow, hiding in the trees of Berkeley Street,” he added, glancing about them.