He wouldn’t listen to me, but stumped off down the stairs. As he went I heard him murmuring to himself:
“Gee! but we surely fooled those Deutschers some!”
I drank this admirable fellow’s cocoa; I warmed myself at his fire. Then with a thankful heart I crawled into bed and sank into a deep and dreamless sleep.
HIS EXCELLENCY THE GENERAL IS WORRIED
I sat with Monica in her boudoir, which, unlike the usual run of German rooms, had an open fireplace in which a cheerful fire was burning. Monica, in a ravishing kimono, was perched on the leather railed seat running round the fireplace, one little foot in a satin slipper held out to the blaze. In that pretty room she made a charming picture, which for a moment almost made me forget the manifold dangers besetting me.
The doughty Carter had acquitted himself nobly of his task. When I awoke, feeling like a giant refreshed, he had the fire blazing merrily in the fireplace, while on the table a delicious breakfast of tea and fried eggs and biscuits was spread.
“There ain’t no call to mess yourself up inside with that dam’ war bread of theirs,” he chirped. “Miss Monica, she lets me have biscuits, same like she has herself. I always calls her Miss Monica,” he explained, “like what they did over at her uncle’s place in Long Island, where I used to work.”
After breakfast he produced hot water, a safety razor and other toilet requisites, a clean shirt and collar, an overcoat and a Stetson hat—all from Gerry’s wardrobe, I presumed. My boots, too, were beautifully polished, and it was as a new man altogether, fresh in mind and clean in body, that I presented myself, about ten o’clock in the morning, at the front door and demanded the “Frau Graefin.” By Carter’s advice I had removed my moustache, and my clean-shaven countenance, together with my black felt hat and dark overcoat, gave me, I think, that appearance of rather dour respectability which one looks for in a male attendant.
Now Monica and I sat and reviewed the situation together.
“German servants spend their lives in prying into their masters’ affairs,” she said, “but we shan’t be interrupted here. That door leads into Gerry’s room: he was asleep when I went in just now. I’ll take you into him presently. Now tell me about yourself ... and Francis!”
I told her again, but at greater length, all I knew about Francis, his mission into Germany, his long silence.
“I acted on impulse,” I said, “but, believe me, I acted for the best. Only, everything seems to have conspired against me. I appear to have walked straight into a mesh of the most appalling complications which reach right up to the Throne.”
“Never mind, Des,” she said, leaning over and putting a little hand on my arm, “it was for Francis; you and I would do anything to help him, wouldn’t we? ... if he is still alive. Impulse is not such a bad thing, after all. If I had acted on impulse once, maybe poor Francis would not now be in the fix he is....”