“Do not be unnecessarily anxious. Nothing will happen either to you or to Herr Amelungen, if you can induce him to change sides and help us for the future instead of the English.”
Penurot hung down his head and remained silent.
“And how about Herr van Spranekhuizen in Rotterdam?” continued Heideck. “Of course he belongs to the league.”
“He is my father’s brother-in-law. His wife is an Amelungen.”
“And what is the real reason why these two gentlemen, who I hear are wealthy merchants, have undertaken to act as spies for England?”
“Oh, there is nothing so wonderful in that, Herr major. France has occupied Belgium, Germany the Netherlands. Of course they are very bitter about it.”
“That may be. But well-to-do merchants are not in the habit of risking their lives out of pure patriotism in such circumstances. As a rule, only those people do that who have little to lose.”
“I have already told you that my father’s wife is English. For love of her he does a great deal which certainly nothing else would induce him to do.”
At this moment Heideck, being informed that the pinnace was ready, requested Penurot to accompany him on board. In the harbour of Flushing he took leave of him for a while, with instructions to call upon him in an hour at his office, having told him exactly where it was. He had no fear that Penurot would attempt flight. He felt absolutely sure of this gentleman.
On arriving at his office close to the Duke of Wellington Hotel, Heideck found his staff extremely busy. One lieutenant was looking through the French and German newspapers for important information; another was studying the Russian and English journals. The last were few in number and not of recent date, limited to those which had been smuggled across from England by daring skippers and fishermen. There were several despatches from St. Petersburg, containing news of fresh victories in India.
The Russian army had pushed on to Lucknow without any further engagement worth mentioning having taken place since the battle of Delhi. It seemed as if the English were for the time unwilling to meet the enemy in the open field. They apparently calculated that the heat and the enormous length of their line of communication would prevent the Russians from reaching the southern provinces in sufficient strength to overcome an energetic resistance there. But Heideck no longer believed in the possibility of such a resistance, concluding from the announcement of a stream of reinforcements arriving through the Khyber Pass that all the Russian losses would be speedily made up. In his opinion, practically the only thing left for the English was to embark the remnants of their army at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, and to get a portion at least of their beaten forces safely out of India.