Heideck assumed that Brandelaar had now come for his promised reward. But as the skipper, after receiving the money, kept turning his hat between his fingers, like a man who does not like to perform a painful errand or make a disagreeable request, Heideck asked in astonishment: “Have you anything else to say to me, Brandelaar?”
Only after considerable hesitation he replied, “Yes, Herr major, I was to bring you a greeting—you will know who sent it.”
“I think I can guess. You have seen the lady again since yesterday evening?”
“The lady came to me last night at the inn and demanded to be taken back to Dover at once. But I thought you would not like it.”
“So then you refused?”
Brandelaar continued to stare in front of him at the floor.
“The lady would go—in spite of the bad weather. And she would not be satisfied till I had persuaded my friend Van dem Bosch to take her in his cutter to Dover?”
“This was last night?”
“And what more?” persisted Heideck.
“He came back at noon to-day. They had a misfortune on the way.”
Heideck’s frame shook convulsively. A fearful suspicion occurred to him. He needed all his strength of will to control himself.
“And the lady?”
“Herr major, it was the lady who met with an accident. She fell overboard on the journey.”
Heideck clasped the back of the chair before him with both hands. Every drop of blood had left his face.
“Fell—overboard? Good God, man—and she was not saved?”
Brandelaar shook his hand.
“No, Herr major! She would stay on deck in spite of the storm, though Van dem Bosch kept asking her to go below. When a violent squall broke the halyard, she was knocked overboard by the gaff. As the sea was running high, there was no chance of saving her.”
Heideck had covered his face with his hand. A dull groan burst from his violently heaving breast and a voice within him exclaimed—
“The guilt is yours. She sought death of her own accord, and it was you who drove her to it!”
His voice sounded dry and harsh when he turned to the skipper and said—
“I thank you for your information, Brandelaar. Now leave me alone.”
THE LANDING IN SCOTLAND
The ninth and tenth army corps had collected at the inlet of Kid harbour. The town of Kiel and its environs resounded with the clattering of arms, the stamping of horses and the joyful songs of the soldiers, who, full of hope, were expecting great and decisive events. But no one knew anything for certain about the object of the impending expedition.
From the early hours of the morning of the 13th of July an almost endless stream of men, horses, and guns poured over the landing-bridges, which connected the giant steamers of the shipping companies with the harbour quays. Other divisions of troops were taken on board in boats, and on the evening of the 14th the whole field army, consisting of 60,000 men, was embarked.