“Oh, I don’t know,” he replied. “The old man was very anxious I should find out. You see, a lot of information seems to have got over on the other side, and we couldn’t think where it had leaked out, except through your wireless. However, that isn’t likely, of course, unless you’ve got one of these beastly Germans in your receiving-room. Now if I can borrow a cigarette, a cigar, or a pipe of tobacco—any mortal thing to smoke—I’ll be off, if I may. The old man turned me out at an unearthly hour this morning, and in Sheringham all the shops were closed. Steady on, young fellow,” he laughed, as Gerald filled his pockets with cigarettes. “Well, here’s good morning to you, Miss Fentolin. Good morning, sir. How long ought it to take me to get to Sheringham?”
“About forty minutes,” Gerald told him, “if your car’s any good at all.”
“It isn’t much,” was the somewhat dubious reply. “However, we’ll shove along. You in the Service?” he enquired, as they walked down the hall together.
“Hope I shall be before long,” Gerald answered. “I’m going into the army, though.”
“Have to hurry up, won’t you?”
“It’s a little difficult for me. Here’s your car. Good luck to you!”
“My excuses to Mr. Fentolin,” Lieutenant Godfrey shouted, “and many thanks.”
He jumped into the automobile and was soon on his way back. Gerald watched him until he was nearly out of sight. On the knoll, two of the wireless operators were already at work. Mr. Fentolin sat in his chair below, watching. The blue sparks were flashing. A message was just being delivered. Presently Mr. Fentolin turned his chair, and with Meekins by his side, made his way back to the house. He passed along the hall and into his study. Gerald, who was on his way to the dining-room, heard the ring of the telephone bell and the call for the trunk special line. He hesitated for a moment. Then he made his way slowly down towards the study and stood outside the door, listening. In a moment he heard Mr. Fentolin’s clear voice, very low yet very penetrating.
“The Mediterranean Fleet will be forty-seven hours before it comes together,” was the message he heard. “The Channel Fleet will manoeuvre off Sheerness, waiting for it. The North Sea Fleet is seventeen units under nominal strength.”
Gerald turned the handle of the door slowly and entered. Mr. Fentolin was just replacing the receiver on its stand. He looked up at his nephew, and his eyebrows came together.
“What do you mean by this?” he demanded. “Don’t you know that I allow no one in here when I am telephoning on the private wire?”
Gerald closed the door behind him and summoned up all his courage.
“It is because I have heard what you were saying over the telephone that I am here,” he declared. “I want to know to whom you were sending that message which you have intercepted outside.”