As I came over the side of the yacht, Dorothy was at the rail and in a momen_as in my arms. " Thank God ! Thank God ! you are back," she murmured. " Yo_re back and the awful waiting is over, but how many wives and sweetheart_ill wait all the rest of their lives ! "
Tom was but a moment behind his sister. " Do you mean to say that every boat, without exception, has gone ? " he questioned.
" Every one within my range of vision. Between eighty and ninety in all," _nswered.
" Good God ! What a catastrophe," said Tom dazedly. " I can't realize it."
My little yacht was still alongside, and the skipper now hailed us. " Mr.
Orrington, sir, could somebody else take our boat in, and could we go with you ? I think, sir, we'd feel easier, if we could go with you."
There was something to do. In a few minutes an exchange had been made, and m_rew was on the larger yacht. As they came over the rail, Tom met them with _ow request to keep their mouths shut.
" Don't fear us," said my skipper. " We're alive, that's all we ask for. W_on't have any call or wish to talk about it. Do we, mates ?" The other me_hook their heads dumbly, and went slowly to their places.
"What became of your propeller ? " asked Tom, coming back towards us.
" Disappeared. Your rubber valves closed the hole."
" Then he tried to sink you."
" Undoubtedly," I answered. " It was your wooden boat and cage of caema whic_aved me."
As we made for Folkestone, we met other boats hurrying out on the Channel. To_ad ventured out farther than any one else. One by one, they hailed us, bu_ur captain gave them no news and made on.
" I wish I knew what to do," I said wearily. " I can't write this thing. _eel stunned and broken. I'm not sure what I ought to do, anyway. Any ordinar_r even extraordinary thing is proper journalistic stuff, but this is too big, somehow, for individual use. Yet the one thing that ought to be done is to ge_he news to the world as soon as possible."
" I don't know what to tell you," said Dorothy hesitatingly. " Isn't you_ondon correspondent to be in Folkestone waiting for you ? "
" Yes," I said.
" Well, ask him. You and I will go ashore, and Tom can put out with the yacht.
Then there will be no chance of the sailors' telling anything."
" All right," I answered. " I don't seem to care what happens."
Folkestone Pier was a black mass of people looking out to sea as we came in, and a surging crowd came towards us, as Dorothy and I landed, while our boat, with Tom in the stern, shot back towards the yacht. Had it not been for thre_r four policemen, we could not have forced our way through the jam, but b_heir aid we managed to struggle through, shaking our heads in response to th_housand questions. As the human tide ebbed back towards the end of the pier, I heard my name and turned. It was Maxwell, our London correspondent.
" What news.''" he asked eagerly, when he reached me.
" I'll tell you, if you'll get us out of this crowd," I answered.
" I've got a motor here. Come on," he said, and we made our way out, boarde_he motor and started slowly off. I looked at the chauffeur.
" Run out to a quiet place where we can be alone, will you ? " I said t_axwell.
In a few moments we had cleared the town, and were on the bluff above the sea.
There was no one around. " This will do," I said.
As we descended, Maxwell looked questioningly at Dorothy.
"This is my fiancee, Miss Haldane," I explained. " I forgot to introduce you.
She knows the whole story."
Just where we paused, an iron seat faced the wide expanse of blue and shinin_ater, and for a moment I gazed out over the Channel and breathed a silen_rayer of thankgiving for my escape, of remembrance for the men who la_eneath that flood. Then I turned, and began my story. Ere I had spoken _ozen words. Maxwell had his note book out, writing rapidly. Throughout, h_rote without a question, without a word. As I ended, he closed his note boo_lowly.
" What we want to know, Mr. Maxwell," said Dorothy anxiously, " is the righ_hing to do. Should this go straight to the paper, or ought it to go first t_he English government ? You see there's probably no living man who saw thi_xcept Jim and his sailors, and we want to do right. We want to do right b_he men that died, and the people that remain."
Wise, able, thoughtful, a scholar and a gentleman, a great journalist, a ma_ho counted among his friends the greatest men of two countries, — no ma_ould be found who could decide such a question better than Maxwell. He looke_t Dorothy.
" That was the very question in my mind, Miss Haldane," he answered. " But _hink there's only one answer. I believe we should take this straight to th_ing. He is at Buckingham Palace, and I believe we should go directly to hi_ith the story. I have met him a number of times, and I know we can get a_udience immediately."
" I'm very glad you think so," I said. " How about the trains ? "
" We can do it better in my car," he replied.
Ten minutes for gasolene, and we started off. Through quiet villages where re_armhouses stood framed in vivid green, by tower and manor house embowered i_ncient oaks, through hedge-rowed land and city street we sped, till the row_f villas, each modelled from a single type, showed the outskirts of London.
Then, at a slower pace, we passed through a smoky fog, across the river, b_he Abbey, to the long front of Buckingham Palace. All the way we sat silen_nder the heavy burden of the news that brought the end of those lon_enturies of unconquerable British power. No enemy who could be conquered ha_hey met. The day had come for peace, and Britain and Germany had been th_reatest sufferers in the change of epochs.
Past the red-coated sentry, to the door of the palace we drove. A few words o_ card brought a secretary with a startled face, and scarce five minutes ha_lapsed before Maxwell was ushered in. Dorothy and I remained in the car. A_axwell left, he remarked, " Orrington, under any ordinary circumstances, I'_sk for an audience for you, but now there's no time to be lost. I can get a_mmediate interview alone, where I could not get one with you."
" That's all right," I said apathetically, " I'm glad not to be obliged t_ove."
We waited before the palace the better part of an hour before the door opene_nd Maxwell emerged. As he came towards us, I could see that he was blowin_is nose vigorously, and that his eyes were moist. He got into the car withou_ word, but as we swung over the bridge into the Park, Maxwell made his firs_emark, staring off into vacancy, " I always thought the King was about th_inest man that England held. Now I know it."
That was all I ever learned of the interview, but, as we came by the Abbey, _eard a newsboy crying, " Destruction of the fleets," and I looked inquiringl_t Maxwell. He nodded in reply, " We published it first. I telephoned the new_rom the palace."
Weary and sad as I was, broken with the horror of the day, my purpose ha_ecome stronger than ever before. As we ran slowly through Whitehall an_round to the Savoy, the thoughts of the past were disappearing in cogitation_s to the effect this would have upon our search for " the man." Though ever_attleship in the world was sunk, my purpose held good. I would find th_estroyer.
The next morning came a startling announcement. The King of England, th_resident of the United States, the President of the French Republic, th_ikado of Japan, and the Czar of Russia issued an immediate call fo_epresentatives of all nations to assemble at The Hague to consider th_uestion of disarmament. That, in itself, differed but little from the othe_ummonses which had resulted in academic discussions, but the paragraph whic_ucceeded the call was one of the most extraordinary the world had ever seen.
The five rulers who issued this invitation each pledged himself to d_verything in his power to bring about complete disarmament, and to end war i_he whole world. In view of the urgency of the situation, the meeting was t_e held in a month at The Hague.
It was soon learned that the initiative in this step had come from the King o_ngland, that the four other rulers had gladly joined with him in the action, when asked concerning it by wireless, and that the Emperor of Germany had bee_nvited to make one of the number, but had refused. That seemed to leav_ermany as the stumbling-block in the way. Complete disarmament was wholl_ossible if every nation were to agree. If a single powerful nation refused t_isarm, it became practically an impossibility, — for no nation would give u_er defenses, with a powerful armored foe at her gates.
I had scarcely finished reading the account in the morning paper, as a waite_pproached with a wireless message from the office. " Take three weeks'
vacation, and then go to Hague as special correspondent for peace conference."
" Confound it! " I ejaculated, as I read the missive. " Look at this," and _assed the paper over to Tom and Dorothy. Tom's face fell.
" Of course it's a good thing in a way," said Tom, " but it takes you righ_ff the track of ' the man '. “
" I refuse to go off the track," I said warmly. " I'm going to wire them bac_efusing this."
" Oh, I wouldn't do that," interrupted Dorothy eagerly. " You stand almost, o_uite as much of a chance to get news of ' the man ' at the peace conference, as elsewhere. We can take the wave-measuring machine right over to The Hague, and work from there. Besides, I want the three weeks' vacation."
" Better take the vacation, and put it in with me down at Cambridge," remarke_om. "They're doing some work in one of the colleges that might help me wit_he Denckel machine. I'd like to watch it awhile, and see its bearing on th_ase. Dorothy would have enjoyed it once, but now she's hopeless. You two ca_ome down, though, and roam round for three weeks there, as well as anywher_lse. It's a jolly country, and we'll have a good time."
" Well, if you feel convinced it's the thing to do, I'll do it," I sai_esignedly. " But I want to put in three weeks here in London, getting thing_ogether. We've never run down that Cragent clue yet."
" You are neither of you going to do any such thing," remarked Dorothy firmly,
" I'll tell you what you are going to do for the next three weeks. You'r_oing to Paris with me."
" Oh, pshaw ! " said Tom disgustedly. " Paris is a hole. I want to go t_ambridge. Do you like Paris, Jim ? "
" Not particularly," I said, with some hesitation, " but then — "
" We're going," said Dorothy.
" What for ? " said Tom argumentatively.
" Well, if you must know," said Dorothy blushing, " I want to shop."
Tom burst into a roar of laughter, and I looked at him in bewilderment. H_eaned over towards me.
" Got the cards engraved yet, Jim ? "
Dorothy blushed still more. I saw a sudden light.
" Of course we go to Paris," I said enthusiastically. " It's the place o_laces."
" And you'll sit round for hours, waiting in a dinky little cab or in a moto_ar on the Boulevard Haussmann, while Dorothy spends her patrimony inside. I_here a special duty on trousseaux, Dorothy ? " he asked, with an affectatio_f seriousness.
" I wish you'd stop," said Dorothy emphatically.
" All right," said Tom. " Only I thought I'd better wire my banker to see i_y balance would leave us anything to go home on."
Three weeks in Paris, hours when I sat and smoked outside big shops and littl_hops, afternoons in the Bois, little " _diners a trois_ " at grea_estaurants, life, and light, and joy. Three weeks with Dorothy, then the da_xpress to The Hague, and a week of watching the arrival of the envoys, whil_om, who had run across an old assistant of Carl Denckel's, set up the wave- measuring machine, and spent his days working over it, in an attempt to wide_ts scope and bring it nearer to its ever present mission. It still remaine_ur chief reliance for our search.
Anxious as I was to return to the quest of " the man," the work at The Hagu_roved fascinating in the extreme. My daily report told of the coming o_epresentatives from almost every nation, and, best of all, told of the fre_nd full powers given them to agree to complete disarmament, provided it coul_e universal. Day after day, in the month which intervened between the callin_f the convention and the opening of the meeting, had come reports o_arliaments and congresses hastily gathered together to consider the question, and of their eager passing of favorable votes. One by one they came, til_very nation had joined in consent, save one. Germany still held aloof. Sinc_he disappearance of the fleets, the German emperor had made no movement t_dvance the war, but kept his armies gathered, his transports riding at ancho_n the ports. The Reichstag met, and discussed most favorably the call to Th_ague, waiting anxiously for some sign from its imperial master, but non_ame. In absolute seclusion, in a lone castle in the depths of the Blac_orest, he sulked like Achilles in his tent.
The first day of meeting came with every power represented save Germany. Th_econd and third passed with no sign from Berlin. On the fourth, I began t_ee signs of difficulty. It was evident that the consent of the German empir_as a _sine qua non_. Delegate after delegate arose and expressed the eage_esire of his country to disarm and bring about universal peace, provided (an_he provided was emphatic) all other nations did the same. On the evening o_he fourth day, an American delegate rose, and by a powerful speech so rouse_he assembly that a delegation was appointed to meet the German Emperor an_sk him, in the name of the conference, to join with the other nations. Afte_he delegation was named, the meeting adjourned for three days, until the_ould return.
On the night when the delegates were to return, I was in my place in th_orrespondents' section of the hall of the conference. The meeting came t_rder, the preliminary business was finished, and the presiding officer aros_o say that the delegates had been delayed in returning, but had telegraphe_hat they would be there within an hour. He had scarcely finished speaking, when a door opened, and a marshal announced " The delegation sent to Hi_ajesty the Emperor of Germany."
Travel-worn and weary, the five men walked up the aisle to the space at th_ront. " Gentlemen, are you ready to report ? " said the presiding officer.
" We are," said the head of the delegation. " The Emperor of Germany refuse_bsolutely to see us, pleading an indisposition. We were unable to obtain an_atisfaction."
The grave assembly rose like the sea. Shouts, cries, requests for recognition, came in one clamorous volume, and the president sounded his gavel fiercely.
The excitable Latins were shouting recriminations. It looked as if th_eething mass would break up in utter disorder, and the great conference woul_nd without result. Far off by the door, I could see a marshal forcing his wa_hrough the crowded aisles, imploring, struggling, fighting. He reached th_ostrum, mounted it, and spoke in the president's ear. With a tremendou_ffort, he shouted, " Silence for important news." Little by little, the crow_tilled. In a resonant voice came the words, " An envoy from the Emperor o_ermany desires to address the conference in person."
A hush came over the assembly, a hush so sudden, so profound, that I coul_ear the scratching of the fountain pen with which the secretary before th_resident wrote the words. The aisles cleared, and the ordered assembly sa_ilently in their seats. The great door opened and, preceded by a corps o_arshals, the envoy from the great Hohenzollern entered. The stiff, unbendin_igure, the haughty head, the piercing eyes and high, upturned moustache o_he field marshal envoy showed his imitation of his master, the war lord.
Proudly, as on parade, he paced to the space where the president, who ha_escended to the floor to greet him, stood. He bowed coldly and turned.
" My master has sent me here," he said abruptly, " to address your conference.
These are his words, ' I have believed that war, that armies made for the bes_ood of my state; I believe it still. I do not believe in peace. But I canno_xpose my navy to destruction, my sailors and my soldiers to death. _herefore agree to peace. My armies shall disband, my fortifications be tor_own, my battleships sunk or turned to peaceful ends. My Reichstag will hav_onfirmed my words ere now.'"
As one man, the assembly arose and cheered. Never, in his own city or from hi_wn troops, came heartier greetings than that which rung out for the las_uler to take up the cause of peace. The field marshal stood there, while th_umult raged, his hands resting on the hilt of his sword, erect as ever, impassive as ever. As the cheering ended, he bowed to the assembly. Turning, he bowed to the president, and then, with martial step, he slowly withdrew.
The delegates from Germany arrived the next day with power to disarm, and th_usiness of signing the agreements and plans of disarmament went on so rapidl_hat the conference was able to adjourn in but a few days' time.
The day the conference closed, I rushed back from the telegraph office th_oment I had sent off the last word of my final dispatch. I found Tom an_orothy in the laboratory. " There, thank goodness," I cried exultantly, "
that's over. Now I can go back to the hunt for ' the man ' with an eas_onscience. What do you think that next move ought to be ? "
"Hold on, till we finish this," said Tom. "We'll talk things over as soon as _et this screw set."
I watched him idly as he worked. " What is he trying to do now ? " I aske_orothy.
Just as I spoke, Tom moved his hand, the low buzz of a Ruhmkoff coil broke i_n the silence of the room, and the glorious beauty of the tube of unknown ga_hat we had found in Heidenmuller's laboratory illumined the place.
" Why, there's the gas tube," I cried in amazement.
" Yes," said Dorothy. " From that tube has come a marvellous development o_he Denckel apparatus. Tom has been able to receive with it right along, bu_ever send. One day he thought of placing that tube of gas in the circuit, an_ow he can send, as well as receive. Tom has done a big thing. He can revers_he action of the machine, not only receive a message from any place, bu_hoot a wireless back across space, and have it strike exactly where h_ishes. It's really a wonderful development, but I don't see how it's going t_elp us find ' the man,' and I don't want to give up. There, Tom is finishing.
We'll talk things over now."
" If ' the man's ' crusade were not over, it might be even more effective," _emarked reflectively. " It would have been strange enough if we had found hi_y means of the gas released from metal destroyed by his terrific power."
" It would have been," answered Dorothy.
I stood watching Tom, as, pipe in mouth, he set the revolving belt in motio_nd watched the moving cylinders.
" To what strength of wave is it adjusted ? " I asked.
" I've put it on the high," said Tom. " It's fixed for ' the man's ' waves.
I've got one new dodge, though, among others. I have it arranged so I coul_ave told at any time whether ' the man' was sinking a ship or jus_xperimenting. It's so delicate that when his waves strike a ship, the machin_an tell it by the slight loss in power. See here," he turned on the switch i_ts revolution, " it's this." Flash went the beam.
A groan burst from Dorothy's lips. " He's at it again. There's a ship gon_own."
Tom's face was ghastly. " That's right," he said. " Where is he ? "
Five minute's calculation brought it.
" He's in Tokio," said Dorothy.
Tom nodded. " What a fiend to have loose in the world. Here his mission i_ccomplished and war is over, and he keeps on."
Dorothy sprang from her chair. " No, it isn't that. I'm sure of it. He doesn'_now that war is over. It must be that. We must tell him of it."