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Chapter 10

  • Once more I sought the booking office at Euston.
  • " The Express has left Prince's Stage at Liverpool, sir. Will be here in abou_hree hours now, sir," was the response to my question.
  • I turned away, dismissed my cab, and started out through the great pillars o_he entrance. Three hours more and Dorothy would be here. Tom and I, with th_ave-measuring machine, had taken the first boat, which happily left th_vening after our interview with Ordway. Dorothy, following a week later, ha_rrived at Liverpool and was speeding to London. It had been hard to wait th_eek, filled as it had been with work, but it seemed as if these last hour_ould never go. Three hours to wait! I had paced the platform of Euston fo_wo already, and I walked out now towards Bloomsbury, passing slowly throug_ts pleasant squares, and watching the foliage behind their guarding railings.
  • Before I knew it, I was in front of the British Museum, and I glanced at m_atch. " As good a place to wait as any," I said to myself, and I crossed th_ourtyard and started up the steps. Just then a man, hurrying out, slipped a_he top of the stone steps and fell heavily, striking his head and lyin_nconscious where he fell. As it chanced, I was the only spectator, save for _ingle pohceman, and, as I hurried forward, I noticed a Theta Sigma Rh_raternity pin on the waistcoat of the fallen man. I reached him first, th_oliceman coming up a second later, and together we raised the unconsciou_orm and carried the man to an office, where we placed him on a lounge. I rea_he name on the reverse of his pin. " E. S. Hamerly." As he lay there, breathing heavily, I watched him with that interest which a fellow countryman, and far more than that, a member of one's own fraternity, in distress in _oreign land inspires. He was a clean-cut young fellow, neatly but very simpl_lad, and I noticed a red acid stain on his sleeve. I had time for no more, for the doctor came hurrying in.
  • " Only a scalp wound," he said, as he made his brief examination. " I ca_ring him round in a minute."
  • A vigorous application of cold water, an aromatic to his nose, and the patien_neezed and opened his eyes. As he gazed around I stepped forward.
  • " Mr. Hamerly," I said, " I'm Orrington of Columbia. I'm a Theta Sigma Rh_an, myself, as I see you are. You've had a nasty fall, but you're coming ou_ll right. I'm going to see you home."
  • Hamerly smiled rather wanly. " I don't feel very energetic," he said. " I'd b_ighty glad to have you. I'm in lodgings up on Half-Moon Street."
  • The doctor broke in. " That's enough talking for the present. Let me fix u_our head and you can go all right."
  • While the doctor bandaged Hamerly's head, I signalled a hansom, and in a fe_inutes we were speeding off to Half-Moon Street.
  • Too much shaken up by his fall for conversation, Hamerly lay back against th_ushions till we reached his lodgings, but he arrived there without seemin_ny worse for the trip. I saw him safely to bed, promised him an early visit, and left a call for a near-by doctor. Then I looked at my watch. Barely tim_o reach Dorothy's train. " To Euston. Rush ! " I cried to the cabby, and awa_e sped. Just as the train came puffing in, I reached the platform, and ther_as Dorothy's dear head leaning from the window of her car. The black ol_tation was transformed as she stepped lightly to the platform, followed b_er maid. She came towards me with both hands outstretched. " Oh, Jim, it'_ood to see you. Where's Tom? "
  • " Down at Folkestone," I answered. " We'll join him there as soon as you'v_ad a night's sleep."
  • " Why wait for that ? " asked Dorothy energetically. " It's only twelve now.
  • We can run down there after lunch. Where are our rooms ? "
  • " At the Savoy," I said. " Suppose you send your maid up there with th_uggage, and we go up in a hansom."
  • It took scarcely ten minutes to load the maid and the luggage in a four- wheeler and join Dorothy. As we swung out through the gates, she spoke with _ong breath. " It seems good to be back in London again, even with war so nea_nd with so much ahead of us. Now, tell me everything that's happened sinc_ou came over to London from Portsmouth. I got your letter at Queenstow_elling about your experiences on the bottom of the sea. How I wish I coul_ave been there. But never mind that now. Tell me all you've done in the las_our days."
  • I settled down to my task. " Tom and I came over safely, as you already know, from our wire at Queenstown. We decided that ' the man ' would be working i_he Channel and, after some discussion, settled on Folkestone as the base fro_hich to work the wave-measuring machine. We took the apparatus down ther_hree days ago, got a big room and set it up. I chartered a yacht."
  • " What did you do that for ?" interrupted Dorothy.
  • " So we could run down ' the man ' if he was on the sea. We decided, comin_ver, that he was more likely to do his experimenting on water than on land, and Tom thinks he can get him from his experimental waves."
  • " I see," said Dorothy. " Go ahead."
  • " After chartering the yacht, I helped Tom all I could till last night, when _ame up to London to meet you. Tom expects to get the machine set up to-day.
  • That's about all."
  • " How is the war progressing ? " asked Dorothy. " Everybody on board the line_as greatly afraid it would begin before we got across, and that we might b_aptured, but we reached Liverpool all right."
  • " Nothing's happened yet," I answered. " But I think it's coming, may come an_inute. They say that the Emperor has refused to see visitors, since th_aiserin Luisa went down, and I think the government expects war immediately.
  • They're mobilizing rapidly on both sides."
  • " Then there certainly isn't a minute to lose in reaching Folkestone," sai_orothy decisively. " We'll just stop for lunch and go right down."
  • It was a day of wonders. Since the night when we had searched for Joslinn, Dorothy and I had never been alone together. The ride from the station to th_avoy was a glorified pilgrimage; the lunch, as we sat looking out on th_mbankment bathed in sunshine, was a celestial repast, even the time o_aiting in the hotel for Dorothy to condense her luggage, and make ready fo_he coming trip, was a delight. But best of all was the trip down t_olkestone. The guard smiled widely at the golden sovereign which saved th_ompartment for us, and the porter heaped attentions on us for his tip, bu_he value which they purchased was priceless. Two hours of speeding throug_he lovely English country In a tete-a-tete with my lady.
  • All too soon came Folkestone, and there beside the train was Tom. " I've go_im," he whispered excitedly. " Hurry up, it's just time to take anothe_eading."
  • As we bowled along through the old streets, Tom hurriedly told us of hi_xperience. " He's experimenting constantly now," he said. " He sent off som_aves yesterday afternoon about four o'clock, just after I got the apparatu_oing; sent off some more about ten, and some this morning, a little afte_ine. They're all from some place out in the Channel, over towards the Frenc_oast. They're from practically the same spot, so I got everything ready fo_n instant departure on our little boat, and the moment we hear from hi_gain, we'll start straight for him."
  • Dorothy's eyes sparkled with excitement. " I'm so glad I got here. I wouldn'_iss the end for anything."
  • " But you're not going with us on the yacht? " I said anxiously.
  • " Of course she's not," said Tom gruffly.
  • " Well, I am," said Dorothy, " and that's all there is about it."
  • Tom and I broke out in a jumble of incoherent objections, which Dorothy me_ith smiling assurance.
  • " You think ' the man ' may be desperate if we find him," she said. " Well, _on't for a minute believe he will be. He's doing too big a thing to hav_nything against ordinary people, and if something did happen, you'd need m_o protect you."
  • Ten minutes more of the drive brought ten minutes more of heated discussion, but it brought us no victory, and the end of the debate came when Tom gave i_ith the brotherly remark: " Well, go your own confounded, obstinate wa_hen." To which Dorothy, as calm and smiling as a summer morn, responde_imply, " I shall."
  • " Here's our place," said Tom, as we rattled up to a house which displayed o_he stairs to the second story a sign, " Dancing Academy." " This was the onl_oom we could get that had incandescent wiring, and that was long enough t_old the scale of the Denckel apparatus," he explained to Dorothy, as w_rossed the bare floor to the apparatus, standing in front of the chair_hereon was wont to repose the beauty and chivalry of Folkestone, at the "
  • assemblies " advertised below.
  • " The machine is working beautifully. Look at this." He threw the switch, lighted the lamp, and lowered the green shade. The belt of metal had revolve_carcely a minute, and Tom was pulling down the last shade, as the bea_luttered and the machine stopped. " Just in time," said Dorothy delighted. "
  • Hurry up, Tom." The old inherent passion of the chase was on us all, and i_ess than twenty minutes, the last figures made, Tom and Dorothy compare_heir work.
  • " Just there," said Tom, making a cross with his pencil on a point on th_rench coast some ten miles up from Boulogne. " Come on, don't waste a minute.
  • It's practically a straight run across the channel."
  • Ten minutes brought us aboard the little yacht and ten minutes more saw u_teaming out of the harbor. Dorothy was with us. Further discussion had bee_seless.
  • " Not much like the Black Arrow," I said, as we came out rather slowly int_he Channel.
  • " You wait till she gets speeded up," said Tom. " She can go. I proved tha_esterday."
  • He was right. Once out into the Channel, our speed gradually increased, til_e were making good progress. In an hour we sighted the French coast from th_ittle bridge, and Tom, beside the skipper, was making for the cross on th_hart.
  • " We'll sight her, if she hasn't gone directly away from us, inside of fiftee_inutes," Tom said. Dorothy stood beside the wheel, ranging the whole horizo_ith her binoculars. She had thrown aside her hat, and a loosened tress of he_air flew lightly across my face as I stood beside her.
  • " Two sails off that point," she announced, in a few moments. " They look mor_ike those tubs of French fishing-boats than a yacht," she said shortly. "
  • Look at them, Jim."
  • She handed her glasses to me. The horizon, for five miles in any directio_rom the point where we were heading, showed but the two sails she ha_entioned, and we headed directly for them. As we neared them, we saw tha_orothy's eyes had proved true. They were wide, clumsy, fishing craft, such a_ail from the harbor of Boulogne, or hang in miniature as votive offering_efore the altars of the cathedral. Undecked and open, they could hold n_omplicated apparatus. Their crews were sturdy, jerseyed fishermen, who stare_n open-mouthed wonder, as our yacht came up alongside the first, and a volle_f questions came in rapid French from the beautiful girl on the-bridge.
  • With instinctive courtesy, every sailor on either boat removed his cap as sh_poke, and the skipper gave answer in slow, deeply considered words. " No, w_ave seen no yacht except your own. Hein ! is it not so ? " he turned to th_ailors.
  • A chorus of affirmatives came back. There had been no other vessel off thi_oint save the Virginie of their own town, (an expressive thumb pointed to th_ther boat,) for four, five hours. They would surely have seen it if there ha_een. Tom consulted his chart and consulted our own skipper. It was the ver_pot. With knitted brow, he ordered the boat headed for the other fishermen. _ulled a half sovereign from my pocket.
  • " Buvez avec moi, mes garçons," I cried, and flung the coin into the fishin_oat. A chorus of "Merci's" followed our path.
  • The other boat gave no better results. Its sailors had seen nothing, and w_an back to the point whence the waves had come, for a brief consultation. A_e gazed on the quiet water just tinged with the last of the sunset, I spoke.
  • " There's only one explanation, if the wave-measuring machine is correct. He'_own on the bottom in a submarine, or he was there when he sent off thos_aves."
  • " I'm afraid that's right, Jim," said Tom. " If I could only see down there. _onder how deep it is. He called to the captain. " Take a sounding here, wil_ou please ? "
  • We hurried forward and watched the line overboard. Fathom after fatho_isappeared up to the very end. " It's more than a hundred twenty fathom, sir," reported the captain.
  • " No use, then," said Tom. " Go right back to Folkestone. We'll have a coupl_ore tries tomorrow," he went on. " But, frankly, I'm afraid it won't do an_ood. To find a submarine in these waters would be worse than finding a needl_n a haystack."
  • It was a rather gloomy little party that landed at Folkestone that night. W_ad seemed so near success. Yet there was one alleviation. I had dreade_ringing Dorothy into danger, and I had had a most uneasy feeling as to th_ossible result of the meeting with a man inspired with so fixed and fearful _urpose as he whom we sought. Much as I desired the completion of my search, _ould not therefore feel too complete a sense of regret at the two failure_hich we encountered on the Channel the next day. The man was in the Channe_ea. He was experimenting with his apparatus daily under its waves. We coul_e sure of that, but he could not be reached, so we finally gave in an_eturned to London.
  • All the way up in the train, Dorothy sat in deep thought, but no result cam_rom her meditations, and we returned to the Savoy without a ray of light a_o our next move.
  • The next morning I woke with fresh courage. We had gained so much and s_nexpectedly, that I felt convinced we must gain more. I found a table in th_ining-room, and waited there for Tom and Dorothy, who shortly appeared. W_reakfasted gaily. The morning sun shone brightly on the little park below th_indow and on the Thames, flowing slowly beyond. The peaceful scene looke_ittle like war, but the papers before us were full of dire forebodings. Th_erman Emperor still sulked. Movements of army corps and of battleships wer_he main part of their story. Despite the columns filled with martial things, every newspaper had at least one reference to the man who was trying to sto_ll war, and in more than one of them was a word as to the double danger o_he fleets, who faced not only a foreign foe, but annihilation at the hands o_his unseen destroyer. As we finished breakfast, Dorothy asked, " What are yo_oys going to do this morning? "
  • " I must go down to the city to get some money," I replied.
  • " I think I'll do the same," remarked Tom.
  • " We'll all go together, then," said Dorothy.
  • As we passed out into the courtyard, I raised my stick for a cab, but Doroth_topped me. " Let's go down on top of a bus. I haven't been on one since _anded, and we're in no hurry."
  • Up the winding stair we climbed, and Tom and Dorothy found a seat beside th_river, while I was just behind. Down the Strand into Fleet Street we passed, through the crowds before the bulletins, watching anxiously for the messag_hich should spell " War." At the top of Ludgate Hill, just by St. Paul's, came a block, one of those hopeless tangles which so completely ties up Londo_raffic. Another bus stood just ahead, and I read off the big advertisement_hich lined its top. " Alhambra Radium Ballet," I read. " There's a scientifi_cheme for you people. What is a radium ballet, anyway? "
  • " Oh, they cover the girls' dresses with phosphorescent paint, and turn ou_he lights," said Tom. " It's an old idea. They had them ten years ago."
  • Dorothy turned suddenly. " That's what we want. It's the very thing we've bee_unting for, the new clue. We've never run that down, at all."
  • Tom and I followed slowly her quick intuition. " What new clue ? " I asked.
  • " The phosphorescent paint clue," answered Dorothy energetically. " ' The man
  • ' wrote his first message with a peculiar type of phosphorescent ink. He mus_ave been working with it for some time. If we can only find anybody tha_nows about that kind of paint, we might find out something more definit_bout him. It's the best clue we have, anyway."
  • " But how will you get hold of the people who know about phosphorescent paint?
  • " said Tom. " I think you're in the blindest alley yet."