Mr. Ryan approached the table a little diffidently.
“I hope you will forgive the liberty, sir,” he said to Hamel. “You remember me, I trust—Mr. Ryan. I am the librarian at St. David’s Hall.”
“I thought I’d seen you there.”
“I was wondering,” the man continued, “whether you had a car of Mr. Fentolin’s in Norwich to-day, and if so, whether I might beg a seat back in case you were returning before the five o’clock train? I came in early this morning to go through some manuscripts at a second-hand bookseller’s here, and I have unfortunately missed the train back.”
Hamel shook his head.
“I came in by train myself, or I would have given you a lift back, with pleasure,” he said.
Mr. Ryan expressed his thanks briefly and left the room. Kinsley watched him from over the top of a newspaper.
“So that is one of Mr. Fentolin’s creatures, too,” he remarked. “Keeping his eye on you in Norwich, eh? Tell me, Dick, by-the-by, how do you get on with the rest of Mr. Fentolin’s household, and exactly of whom does it consist?”
“There is his sister-in-law,” Hamel replied, “Mrs. Seymour Fentolin. She is a strange, tired-looking woman who seems to stand in mortal fear of Mr. Fentolin. She is always overdressed and never natural, but it seems to me that nearly everything she does is done to suit his whims, or at his instigation.”
Kinsley nodded thoughtfully.
“I remember Seymour Fentolin,” he said; “a really fine fellow he was. Well, who else?”
“Just the nephew and niece. The boy is half sullen, half discontented, yet he, too, seems to obey his uncle blindly. The three of them seem to be his slaves. It’s a thing you can’t live in the house without noticing.”
“It seems to be a cheerful sort of household,” Kinsley observed. “You read the papers, I suppose, Dick?” he asked, after a moment’s pause.
“On and off, the last few days. I seem to have been busy doing all sorts of things.”
“Well, I’ll tell you something,” Kinsley continued. “The whole of our available fleet is engaged in carrying out what they call a demonstration in the North Sea. They have patrol boats out in every direction, and only the short distance wireless signals are being used. Everything, of course, is in code, yet we know this for a fact: a good deal of private information passing between the Admiral and his commanders was known in Germany three hours after the signals themselves had been given. It is suspected—more than suspected, in fact—that these messages were picked up by Mr. Fentolin’s wireless installation.”
“I don’t suppose he could help receiving them,” Hamel remarked.
“He could help decoding them and sending them through to Germany, though,” Kinsley retorted grimly. “The worst of it is, he has a private telephone wire in his house to London. If he isn’t up to mischief, what does he need all these things for—private telegraph line, private telephone, private wireless? We have given the postmaster a hint to have the telegraph office moved down into the village, but I don’t know that that will help us much.”