" 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."