The Box with Broken Seals
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Part 2 out of 5
one of these messages, no record of which is kept, of which the purser
is not informed, and which are delivered secretly to--"
"Well, to whom?" the captain demanded.
"To a passenger on board this steamer."
The captain shook his head. His whole expression was one of
"Nonsense!" he exclaimed. "If Robins has failed in his duty, which I
still take the liberty of doubting, I must cross-question him
Crawshay assumed the air of a pained invalid whose wishes have been
"You must really oblige me by doing nothing of the sort," he begged.
"I am sure that my way is best. Besides, you make me feel like an
eavesdropper--a common informer, and that sort of thing, you know."
"I am afraid that I cannot allow any question of sentiment to stand
between me and the discipline of my ship," was the somewhat
Crawshay sighed, and with languid fingers unbuttoned his overcoat and
coat. Then, from some mysterious place in the neighbourhood of his
breast pocket, he produced an envelope containing a single
half-sheet of paper.
"Read that, sir, if you please," he begged.
The captain accepted the envelope with some reluctance, straightened
out its contents, read the few words it contained several times, and
handed back the missive. He stood for a moment like a man in a dream.
Crawshay returned the envelope to his pocket and rose to his feet.
"Well, I'll be getting along," he observed. "We'll have another little
chat, Captain, later on. I must take my matutinal stroll, or I know
how I shall feel about luncheon time. Besides, there are some
exuberant persons on board who are expecting me to offer them
refreshment about one o'clock, out of my winnings, and, attached to
your wonderful country as I am, Captain, I must admit that cocktails
do not agree with me." "One has to get used to them," the captain
"I am most unfortunate, too, in the size of my feet," Crawshay
continued dolefully, looking down at them. "If there is one thing I
thoroughly dislike, it is being on board ship without rubber
overshoes--a product of your country, Captain, which I must confess
that I appreciate more than your cocktails. Good morning, sir. I hope
I haven't kept you from your rounds. Dear me!" he added, in a tone of
vexation, as he passed through the door, "I believe that I have been
sitting in a draught all the time. I feel quite shivery."
He shambled down the deck. The purser lingered behind with an
enquiring expression in his eyes, but his chief did not take the hint.
"Dix," he said solemnly, as he put on his cap and started out on his
rounds, "I was right. This is going to be a very queer voyage indeed!"
Crawshay walked slowly along the deck until he found a completely
sheltered spot. Then he summoned the deck steward and superintended
the arrangement of his deck chair, which was almost hidden under a
heap of rugs. He had just adjusted a pair of spectacles and was
preparing to settle down when Katharine, in her nurse's uniform,
issued from the companionway and stood for a moment looking about her.
Crawshay at once raised his cap.
"Good morning, Miss Beverley," he said. "You do not recognise me, of
course, but my name is Crawshay. I had the pleasure of meeting you
once at Washington."
"I remember you quite well, Mr. Crawshay," she replied, glancing with
some amusement at his muffled-up state. "Besides, you must remember
that you are the hero of the ship. I suppose I ought to congratulate
you upon your wonderful descent upon us yesterday."
"Pray don't mention it," Crawshay murmured. "The chance just came my
way. I--er--" he went on, gazing hard at her uniform, "I was not aware
that you were personally interested in nursing."
"That shows how little you know about me, Mr. Crawshay." "I have
heard," he admitted, "of your wonderful deeds of philanthropy, also
that you entirely support a large hospital in New York, but I had no
idea that you interested yourself personally in the--er--may I say
most feminine and charming avocation of nursing?"
"I have been a probationer," she told him, "in my own hospital, and I
am at the present moment in attendance upon a patient on board
"You amaze me!" he exclaimed. "You--did I understand you to say that
you were in personal attendance upon a patient?"
"That is so, Mr. Crawshay."
"Well, well, forgive my astonishment," he continued. "I had no idea.
At any rate I am glad that your patient's state of health permits you
to leave him for a time."
Her expression became a little graver.
"As a matter of fact," she sighed, "my patient is very ill indeed, I
am afraid. However, the doctor shares the responsibility with me, and
he is staying with him now for half an hour."
"May I, in that case," he begged, "share your promenade?"
"With pleasure," she acquiesced, without enthusiasm. "You will have to
take off some of your coats, though."
"I am suffering from chill," he explained. "I sometimes think that I
shall never be warm again, after my experience of yesterday."
He divested himself, however, of his outside coat, arranged his
muffler carefully, thrust his hands into his pockets, and fell into
step by her side. "I am interested," he observed, "in illness. What
exactly is the matter with your charge?"
"He has had a bad operation," she replied, "and there are
"Dear me! Dear me!" Crawshay exclaimed, in a shocked tone. "And in
such a state he chooses to make a perilous voyage like this?"
"That is rather his affair, is it not?" she said drily.
"Precisely," her companion agreed. "Precisely! I should not, perhaps,
have made the remark. Sickness, however, interests me very much. I
have the misfortune not to be strong myself, and my own ailments
occupy a good deal of my attention."
She looked at him curiously.
"You suffer from nerves, don't you?" she enquired.
"Hideously," he assented.
"And yet," she continued, still watching him in a puzzled fashion,
"you made that extraordinary voyage through the air to catch this
steamer. That doesn't seem to me to be at all the sort of thing a
nervous person would do."
"It was for a bet," he explained confidentially. "The only occasion
upon which I forget my nerves is when there is a bet to be lost or
won. At the time," he went on, "my deportment was, I think, all that
could have been desired. The sensations of which I was undoubtedly
conscious I contrived to adequately conceal. The after-shock, however,
has, I must admit, been considerable."
"Was it really so terribly important," she enquired, "that you
should be in London next week?"
"The War Office made a special point of it," he assured her. "Got to
join up, you know, directly I arrive."
"Do you think," she enquired after a brief pause, "that you will enjoy
soldiering better than pseudo-diplomacy? I don't exactly know how to
refer to your work. I only remember that when we were introduced I was
told that you had something to do with the Secret Service."
They were leaning over the side of the steamer, and she glanced
curiously at his long, rather sunken face, at the uncertain mouth, and
at the eyes, carefully concealed behind a pair of green spectacles. He
seemed, somehow, to have aged since they had first met, a year ago, in
"To tell you the truth," he confided, "I am a little tired of my job.
Neither fish nor fowl, don't you know. I took an observation course at
Scotland Yard, but I suppose I am too slow-witted for what they call
secret-service work over here."
"America wouldn't provide you with many opportunities, would it?" she
"You are quite right," he replied. "I am much more at home upon the
Continent. The Secret Service in America, as we understand it, does
not exist. One finds oneself continually in collaboration with police
inspectors, and people who naturally do not understand one's point of
view. At any rate," he concluded, with a little sigh, "if I have any
talents, they haven't come to the front in Washington. I don't believe
that dear old Sir Richard was at all sorry to see the last of me."
"And you think you will prefer your new profession?"
"Soldiering? Well, I shall have to train up a bit and see. Beastly
ugly work they seem to make of it, nowadays. I don't mind roughing it
up to the extent of my capacity, but I do think that the advice of
one's medical man should be taken into consideration."
She laughed at him openly.
"Do you know," she said, "I can't picture you campaigning in France!"
"To tell you the truth I can't picture it myself," he confessed
frankly. "The stories I have heard with reference to the absence of
physical comforts are something appalling. By-the-by," he went on, as
though the idea had suddenly occurred to him, "I can't think how your
patient can rest, anyhow, after an operation, on beds like there are
on this steamer. I call it positively disgraceful of the company to
impose such mattresses upon their patrons. My bones positively ache
"Mr. Phillips has his own mattress," she told him, "or rather one of
the hospital ones. He was carried straight into the ambulance from
"Mr.--er--Phillips," Crawshay repeated. "Have I ever met him?"
"I should think not."
"He is, of course, a very great friend of yours?"
"I don't know why you should suppose that."
"Come, come," he remonstrated, "I suppose I am an infernally curious,
prying sort of chap, but when one thinks of you, a society belle of
America, you know, and, further, the patroness of that great
hospital, crossing the Atlantic yourself in charge of a favoured
patient, one can't help--can one?"
"Can one what?" she asked coolly.
"Scenting a romance or a mystery," he replied. "In any case, Mr.
Phillips must be a man of some determination, to risk so much just for
the sake of getting home."
She turned and recommenced their promenade.
"I wonder whether you realise that it isn't etiquette to question a
nurse about her patient," she reminded him.
"I'm sure I am very sorry," he assured her. "I didn't imagine that my
questions were in any way offensive. I told you from the first that I
was always interested in invalids and cases of illness."
She turned her head and looked at him. Her glance was reproving, her
"Really, Mr. Crawshay," she said, "I think that you are one of the
most inquisitive people I ever met."
"It really isn't inquisitiveness," he protested. "It's just obstinacy.
I hate to leave a problem unexplained."
"Then to prevent any further misunderstanding, Mr. Crawshay," she
concluded, a little coldly, "let me tell you that there are private
reasons which make any further questioning on your part, concerning
this matter, impertinent."
Crawshay lifted his cap. He had the air of a man who has received a
rebuff which he takes in ill part.
"I will not risk your further displeasure, Miss Beverley," he said,
stopping by his steamer chair. "I trust that you will enjoy the
remainder of your promenade. Good morning!"
He summoned the deck steward to arrange his rugs, and lay back in his
steamer chair, eating broth which he loathed, and watching Jocelyn
Thew and Katharine Beverley through spectacles which somewhat impaired
his vision. The two had strolled together to the side of the ship to
watch a shoal of porpoises go by.
"I see that you are acquainted with our hero of the seaplane," Jocelyn
"I met him once at Washington and once at the polo games."
"Tell me what you think of him?"
"Well," she confessed, "I scarcely know how to think of him. I must
say, though, that in a general way I should think any profession would
suit him better than diplomacy."
"You find him stupid?"
"I do," she admitted, "and in a particularly British way."
Jocelyn glanced thoughtfully across at Crawshay, who was contemplating
his empty cup with apparent regret.
"You will not think that I am taking a liberty, Miss Beverley, if I
ask you a question?"
"Why should I? Is it so very personal?"
"As a matter of fact, it isn't personal at all. I was only going to
ask you if you would mind telling me what our friend Mr. Crawshay was
talking to you about just now?" "Are you really interested?" she
asked, with an air of faint surprise. "Well, if you must know, he was
asking questions about my patient. He appears to be something of a
hypochondriac himself, and he is very interested in illnesses."
"He has the air of one who takes care of himself," Jocelyn observed,
with a faint smile. "However, one mustn't judge. He may be delicate."
"I think he is an old woman," she remarked carelessly.
"He rather gives one that impression, doesn't he?" Jocelyn agreed.
"By-the-by, there wasn't much you could tell him about your patient,
"There really isn't anything at all," she replied. "I just mentioned
his condition, and as Mr. Crawshay still seemed curious, I reminded
him that it was not etiquette to question a nurse about her patients."
"Most discreet," Jocelyn declared. "As a matter of fact," he went on,
"I have scarcely thought it worth while to mention it to you, because
I knew exactly the sort of answer you would make to any too curious
questions, but there is a reason, and a very serious reason, why my
friend Phillips wishes to avoid so far as possible all manner of
notice and questions."
"You call him your friend Phillips," she remarked, "yet you don't seem
to have been near him since we started."
"Nor do I intend to," he replied. "That is the other point concerning
which I wish to speak to you. You may think it very extraordinary, and
I offer no explanation, but I do not wish it known to--say, Mr.
Crawshay, or any other casual enquirer, that I have any acquaintance
with or interest in Phillips."
"The subject is dismissed," she promised lightly. "I am not in the
least an inquisitive person. I understand perfectly, and my lips
His little smile of thanks momentarily transformed his expression. Her
eyes became softer as they met his.
"Now please walk with me for a little time," she begged, "and let us
leave off talking of these grizzly subjects. You've really taken very
little notice of me so far, and I have been rather looking forward to
the voyage. You have traveled so much that I am quite sure you could
be a most interesting companion if you wished to be."
He obeyed at once, falling easily into step with her, and talking
lightly enough about the voyage, their fellow passengers, and other
trifling subjects. Her occasional attempts to lead the conversation
into more serious channels, even to the subject of his travels, he
avoided, however, with a curious persistency. Once she stopped short
and forced him to look at her.
"Mr. Jocelyn Thew," she complained, "tell me why you persist in
treating me like a child?"
Then for the first time his tone became graver.
"I want to treat you and think of you," he said, "in the only way that
is possible for me."
"Explain, please," she begged.
He led her again to the side of the ship. The sea had freshened, and
the spray flew past them like salt diamonds.
"Since it has pleased you to refer to the subject, Miss Beverley," he
said seriously, "I will explain so far as I am able. I suppose that I
have committed nearly every one of the crimes which our abbreviated
dictionary of modern life enumerates. If the truth were known about
me, and I were judged by certain prevailing laws, not only my
reputation but my life might be in serious danger. But there is one
crime which I have not committed and which I do not intend to commit,
one pain which I have avoided all my life myself, and avoided
inflicting upon others. I think you must know what I refer to."
"I can assure you that I do not," she told him frankly. "In any case I
hate ambiguity. Do please tell me exactly what you mean."
"I was referring to my attitude towards your sex," he replied.
There was a faint twinkle in her eyes.
"That sounds so ponderous," she murmured. "Don't you like us, then?"
"There are circumstances in my life," he said, "which prevent my even
considering the subject."
She turned and looked him full in the eyes. Her very sweet mouth was
suddenly pathetic, her eyes were full of gentle resentment.
"I do not believe," she said firmly, "that you have done a single
thing in life of which you ought to be ashamed. I do not believe one
of the hard things you have said about yourself. I am not a child. I
am a woman--twenty-six years old--and I like to choose my own friends.
I should like you to be my friend, Mr. Thew."
He murmured a few words entirely conventional. Nothing in his
expression responded in the least to the appeal of her words. His face
had grown like granite. He turned to the purser, who was strolling
by. As though unconsciously, the finer qualities of his voice had gone
as he engaged the latter in some trivial conversation.
That night at dinner time a stranger appeared at the captain's table.
A dark, thick-browed man, in morning clothes of professional cut, was
shown by one of the saloon stewards to a seat which had hitherto been
vacant. Crawshay, whose place was nearly opposite, leaned across at
once with an air of interest.
"Good evening, Doctor," he said.
"Good evening, sir," was the somewhat gruff reply.
"Glad to see that you are able to come in and join us," Crawshay
continued, unabashed. "You are, I believe, the physician in attendance
on Mr. Phillips. I am very interested in illnesses. As a matter of
fact, I am a great invalid myself."
The doctor contented himself with a muttered monosyllable which was
not brimful of sympathy.
"This is a very remarkable expedition of yours," Crawshay went on. "I
am a man of very little sentiment myself--one place to me is very much
like another--so I do not understand this wild desire on the part of
an invalid to risk his life by undertaking such a journey. It is a
great feat, however. It shows what can be accomplished by a man of
determination, even when he is on the point of death." "Who said that
my patient was on the point of death?" the doctor demanded brusquely.
"It is common report," Crawshay assured him. "Besides, as you know,
the New York press got hold of the story before you started, and the
facts were in all the evening papers."
"Didn't you read them? Most interesting!" Crawshay continued. "They
all took the same line, and agreed that it was an absolutely
unprecedented occurrence for a man to embark upon an ocean voyage only
a few days after an operation for appendicitis, with double pneumonia
behind, and angina pectoris intervening. Almost as unusual," Crawshay
concluded with a little bow, "as the fact of his being escorted by the
most distinguished amateur nurse in the world, and a physician of such
distinction as Doctor--Doctor--Dear me, how extraordinary! For the
moment I must confess that your name has escaped me."
The heavy-browed man leaned forward a little deliberately towards his
_vis-à-vis_. His was not an attractive personality. His features were
large and of bulldog type. His forehead was low, and his eyes, which
gave one the impression of being clear and penetrating, were concealed
by heavy spectacles. His hands only, which were well-shaped and cared
for, might have indicated his profession.
"My name," he said, "is Gant--Doctor James H. Gant. You are not, I
presume, a medical man yourself?"
Crawshay shook his head.
"A most admirable profession," he declared, "but one which I should
never have the nerve to follow."
"You do not, therefore, appreciate the fact," Doctor Gant continued,
"that a medical man, especially one connected with a hospital of such
high standing as St. Agnes's, does not discuss his patient's ailments
"No offence, Doctor--no offence," Crawshay protested across the table.
"Mine is just the natural interest in a fellow sufferer of a man who
has known most of the ailments to which we weak humans are subject."
"I suppose, as we have the pleasure of your company this evening," the
captain intervened, "Miss Beverley will be an absentee?"
"Miss Beverley at the present moment is taking my place," the doctor
replied. "She insisted upon it. Personally, I am used to eating at all
times and in all manner of places."
There was a brief silence, during which Crawshay discussed the subject
of inoculation for colds in the head with his neighbour on the other
side, and the doctor showed a very formidable capacity for making up
for any meals which he might have missed by too rigid an attention to
his patient. The captain presently addressed him again.
"Have you met our ship's doctor yet?" he enquired.
"I have had that honour," Doctor Gant acknowledged. "He was good
enough to call upon me yesterday and offer his assistance should I
"A very clever fellow, I believe," the captain observed.
"He impressed me some," the other confessed. "If any further
complications should arise, it will be a relief for me to
The subject of the sick man dropped. Crawshay walked out of the saloon
with the captain and left him at the bottom of the stairs.
"I'll take the liberty of paying you a short call presently, Captain,
if I may," he said. "I just want to fetch my wraps. And by-the-by, did
I tell you that I have been fortunate enough to find a pair of rubbers
that just fit me, at the barber's? One of the greatest blessings on
board ship, Captain, believe me, is the barber's shop. It's like a
bijou Harrod's or Whiteley's--anything you want, from an elephant to a
needle, you know. In about ten minutes, Captain, if I shan't be
The captain found the purser on deck and took him into his cabin.
"I saw you speaking to Doctor Gant in the gangway," the former
observed. "I wonder what he really thinks about his patient?"
"I think I can tell you that, sir, without betraying any confidences,"
the purser replied. "Unless a miracle happens, there'll be a burial
before we get across. Poor fellow, it seems too bad after such
The captain nodded sympathetically.
"After all, I can understand this hankering of a man to die in his own
country," he said. "I had a brother once the same way. They brought
him home from Australia, dying all the way, as they believed, but
directly he set foot in England he seemed to take on a new lease of
life--lived for years afterwards." "Is that so?" the purser remarked.
"Well, this fellow ought to have a chance. It's a short voyage, and he
has his own doctor and nurse to look after him."
"Let's hope they'll keep him alive, then. I hate the burial service at
The captain turned aside and filled his pipe thoughtfully.
"Dix," he continued, "as you know, I am not a superstitious man, but
there seems to be something about this trip I can't fathom."
"Well, there's this wireless business, first of all. We shall close it
up in about thirty-six hours, you know, and in the meantime I have
been expecting half a dozen messages, not one of which has
"Young fellow of the highest character, Robins," the purser remarked
"That may be," the captain agreed, "and yet I can't get rid of my
premonition. I wouldn't mind laying you anything you like, Dix, that
we don't sight a submarine, and shouldn't, even if we hadn't our
"That's one comfort, anyway. Being a family man, sir--"
"Yes, I know all about your family, Dix," the captain interrupted
irritably, "but just at the present moment I am more interested in
what is going on in my ship. I begin to believe that Mr. Crawshay's
voyage through the air wasn't altogether a piece of bravado,
The purser smiled a little incredulously. "He sent round this evening
to know if I could lend him some flannel pyjamas," he said,--"says all
the things that have been collected together for him are too thin.
That man makes me tired, sir."
"He makes me wonder."
"How's that, sir?"
"Because I can't size him up," the captain declared. "There isn't a
soul on board who isn't laughing at him and saying what a sissy he is.
They say he has smuggled an extra lifebelt into his cabin, and spends
half his time being seasick and the other half looking out for
"That's the sort of fellow he seems to me, anyway," the purser
"I can't say that I've quite made up my mind," the captain pronounced.
"I suppose you know, Dix, that he was connected with the Secret
Service at the English Embassy?"
"I didn't know it," Dix replied, "but if he has been, Lord help us! No
wonder the Germans have got ahead of us every time!"
"I don't think he was much of a success," the other continued, "and as
a matter of fact he is on his way back to England now to do his bit of
soldiering. All the same, Dix, he gave me a turn the other day."
"How's that, sir?"
"Showed me an order, signed by a person I won't name," the captain
went on, lowering his voice, "requesting me to practically run the
ship according to his directions--making him a kind of Almighty boss."
Mr. Dix opened his lips and closed them again. His eyes were wide
open with astonishment. There was an indecisive knock at the door,
which at a gesture from the captain he opened. Wrapped in a huge
overcoat, with a cap buttoned around his ears and a scarf nearly up to
his mouth, Crawshay stood there, seeking admittance.
* * * * *
"I am exceedingly fortunate to find you both here," the newcomer
observed, as he removed his cap. "Captain, may I have a few minutes'
conversation with you and Mr. Dix?"
"Delighted," the captain acquiesced, "so long as you don't keep me
more than twenty minutes. I am due on the bridge at nine o'clock."
"I will endeavour not to be prolix," Crawshay continued, carefully
removing his rubbers, unfastening his scarf and loosening his
overcoat. "A damp night! I fear that we may have fog."
"This all comes off the twenty minutes," the captain reminded him.
Crawshay smiled appreciatively.
"Into the heart of things, then! Let me tell you that I suspect a
conspiracy on board this boat."
"Of what nature?" the captain asked swiftly.
"It is my opinion," Crawshay said deliberately, "that the result of
the whole accumulated work of the German Secret Service, compiled
since the beginning of the war by means of Secret Service agents,
criminals, and patriotic Germans and Austrians resident in the States,
is upon this ship."
"Hell!" the purser murmured, without reproof from his chief.
"It was believed," Crawshay continued, "that these documents,
together with a letter of vital importance, were on the steamer which
conveyed the personnel of the late German Ambassador to Europe. The
steamer was delayed at Halifax and a more or less complete search was
made. I was present on behalf of the English Embassy, but I did not
join personally in the search. You have all heard that the seals of a
tin chest belonging to a neutral country had been tampered with. The
chiefs of my department, and the head of the American Secret Service,
firmly believe that the missing papers are in that chest and will be
discovered when the chest is opened in London. That is not a belief
which I share."
"And your reasons, Mr. Crawshay?" the captain asked.
"First, because Hobson and I were decoyed to Chicago by a bogus
telegram, evidently with the idea that we should find it impossible to
catch or search this steamer. Secondly, because there is on board just
the one man whom I believe capable of conceiving and carrying out a
task as difficult as this one would be."
"Who is he?" the captain demanded.
"A very inoffensive, well-mannered and exceedingly well-informed
individual who is travelling in this steamer under, I believe, his own
name--Mr. Jocelyn Thew."
"Jocelyn Thew!" the captain murmured.
"Thew!" the purser repeated.
"Now I tell you that I have definite suspicions of this man," Crawshay
continued, "because I know that for some reason or other he hates
England, although he has the appearance of being an Englishman. I
know that he has been friendly with enemy agents in New York, and I
know that he has been in recent communication with enemy headquarters
at Washington. Therefore, as I say, I suspect Mr. Jocelyn Thew. I also
suspect Robins, the wireless operator, because I am convinced that he
has received messages of which he has taken no record. I now pass on
to the remainder of my suspicions, for which I frankly admit that I
have nothing but surmise. I suspect Mr. Phillips, Doctor Gant and Miss
The last shock proved too much for the captain. For the first time
there was distinct incredulity in his face.
"Look here, Mr. Crawshay," he protested, "supposing you are right, and
that you are on the track of a conspiracy, how do you account for a
physician from the finest hospital in New York and one of the
best-known young ladies in America being mixed up in it?"
Crawshay acknowledged the difficulties of the supposition.
"As regards the physician," he said thoughtfully, "I must confess that
I am without information concerning him, a fact which increases my
suspicion of Robins, for I should have had his _dossier_, and also
that of the man Phillips, by wireless twenty-four hours ago."
"What about Miss Beverley then?" the captain enquired. "Her family is
not only one of the oldest in America, but they are real Puritan,
Anglo-Saxon stock, white through and through. She has a dozen
relatives in Congress, who have all been working for war with Germany
for the last two years. She also has, as she told me herself, a
brother and four cousins fighting on the French front--the brother in
the Canadian Flying Corps, and the cousins in the English Army."
"There I must confess that you have me," Crawshay admitted. "What you
say is perfectly true. That is one of the mysteries. No plot would be
worth solving, you know, if it hadn't a few mysteries in it."
"If you will allow me a word, Mr. Crawshay," the purser intervened, "I
think you will have to leave Doctor Gant and his patient and Miss
Beverley out of your speculations. I have our own ship doctor's word
for it that Mr. Phillips' condition is exactly as has been stated. Mr.
Jocelyn Thew may or may not be a suspicious character. Anything you
suggest in the way of watching him can be done. But as regards the
other three, I trust that you will not wish their comfort interfered
with in any respect."
"Beyond the search to which every one on board will have to be
subjected," Crawshay replied, "I shall not interfere in any respect
with the three people in question. Mr. Jocelyn Thew, however, is
different. He is a man who has led a most adventurous life. He seems
to have travelled in every part of the globe, wherever there was
trouble brewing or a little fighting to be done."
"Why do you connect him with the present enterprise?" the captain
"Because," Crawshay answered, "the wireless message of which your man
Robins took no record, and concerning which you have kept silence at
my request, was delivered to Mr. Jocelyn Thew. Because, too," he went
on, "it is my very earnest belief that at somewhere in the small hours
of this morning there will be another message, and Mr. Jocelyn Thew
will be on deck to receive it."
The captain knocked out the ashes of his pipe a little apprehensively.
"If half what you suspect is true, Mr. Crawshay," he said, "you will
forgive my saying so, but Jocelyn Thew is not a man you ought to
tackle without assistance."
There was a peculiar glitter in Crawshay's deep-set eyes. For a single
moment a new-born strength seemed to deepen the lines in his face--a
"You needn't worry, Captain," he remarked coolly. "I am not taking too
many chances, and if our friend Mr. Jocelyn Thew should turn out to be
the man I believe him to be, I would rather tackle him alone."
"Why," Mr. Dix demanded, "should anything in the shape of violence
take place? The ship can be searched, every article of baggage
ransacked, and every passenger made to run the gauntlet."
"The search you speak of is already arranged for, Mr. Dix," he said;
"long cables from my friend Hobson have already reached Liverpool--but
the efficacy of such a proposed search would depend a little, would it
not, upon whether we reach Liverpool?" "But if we were submarined,"
the captain pointed out, "the papers would go to the bottom."
Crawshay leaned forward and whispered one word in the captain's ear.
The latter sat for a moment as though paralysed.
"What's to prevent that fellow Robins bringing her right on to our
track?" Crawshay demanded. "That is the reason I spent last night
listening for the wireless. It's the reason I'm going to do the same
The captain sprang to his feet.
"We'll run no risks about this," he declared firmly. "We'll dismantle
the apparatus. I'd never hold up my head again if the _Von
Blucher_ got us!"
Crawshay held out his hand.
"Forgive me, Captain," he said, "but we want proof. Leave it to me,
and if things are as I suspect, we'll have that proof--probably before
to-morrow morning," he added, glancing at the chart.
There was a call down the deck, a knock at the door. The captain took
up his oilskins regretfully.
"You will remember," Crawshay enjoined, "that little mandate I showed
The captain nodded grimly.
"I am in your hands," he admitted. "Don't forget that the safety of
the ship may be in your hands, too!"
"Perhaps," Crawshay whispered, "even more than the safety of the
Robins, the wireless operator, bent closer over his instrument, and
the blue fires flashed from the masthead of the steamer, cutting their
way through the darkness into the black spaces beyond. The little room
was lit by a dull oil light, the door was fast-closed and locked. Away
into the night sped one continual message.
"Steamship _City of Boston_, lat.... long.... lying four points to
northward of usual course. Reply."
A time came when the young man ceased from his labours and sat up with
a yawn. He stretched out his hand and lit a cigarette, walked to the
little round window which commanded the deck, gazed out of it
steadily, and turned back once more to his chair before the
instrument. Then something happened. A greater shock than any that lay
in the blue lightning which he had been generating was awaiting him.
His right hand was suddenly gripped and held on to the table. He found
himself gazing straight down the black bore of a small but uncommonly
ugly-looking revolver. A voice which seemed remarkable for its
convincing qualities, addressed him.
"If you speak a word, Robins, move, or show signs of any attempt to
struggle, I shall shoot you. I have the right and the power." Robins,
a young man of nerve, whose name stood high on an official list of
those who might be relied upon for any desperate enterprise, sat like
a numbed thing. Dim visions of the face of this man, only a few feet
away from his own, assailed him under some very different guise. It
was Crawshay the man, stripped for action, whose lean, strong fingers
were gripping the butt of that revolver, and whose eyes were holding
him like gimlets.
"Now, if you are wise, answer me a few questions," Crawshay began.
"I'd have brought the captain with me, but I thought we might do
better business alone. You've been advertising the ship's
"I've only been giving the usual calls," the young man muttered.
"Don't lie to me," was the grim reply. "Your wireless was supposed to
be silent from yesterday midday except for the purpose of receiving
calls. I ask you again, why and to whom were you advertising our
whereabouts and course?"
Robins looked at the revolver, looked at Crawshay, and was dimly
conscious of a damp feeling about his forehead. Nevertheless, his lips
were screwed together, and he remained silent.
"Come," Crawshay went on, "we'll have a common-sense talk. I am an
agent of the British Secret Service. I have unlimited powers upon this
ship, power to put a bullet through your head if I choose, and not a
soul to question it. The game's up so far as you are concerned. You
have received messages on this steamer of which you have kept no
record, but which you have delivered secretly to a certain passenger.
Of that I may or may not speak later on. At present I am more
interested in your operations of to-night. You are signalling the
information of our whereabouts for some definite reason. What is it?
Were you trying to pick up the _Blucher?_"
"I wasn't trying to pick up anybody," the young man faltered.
Crawshay's fingers gripped him by the shoulder. His very
determined-looking mouth had suddenly become a ring of steel.
"If you don't give me a different answer in ten seconds, Robins, I'll
blow your brains all over the cabin!"
The young man broke.
"I was trying to pick up the _Blucher_," he acknowledged.
"That's exactly what I thought," Crawshay muttered. "That's the game,
without a doubt. What are you? An Englishman?"
"I am not!" was the almost fierce reply. "Blast England!"
Crawshay looked into the black eyes, suddenly lit with an ugly fire,
"I understand," he said. "Robins, your name, eh? Any relation to the
young Sinn Feiner who was shot in Dublin a few months ago?"
"That may save your life later on," Crawshay observed coolly. "Now you
can do one of three things. You can come with me to the captain, be
put in irons and shot as soon as we land--or before, if the _Blucher_
finds us; or you can send the message which I shall give you; or you
can end your days where you sit."
"What message?" the young man demanded.
"You will send out a general call, as before, repeating the latitude
and longitude with a difference of exactly three points, and you will
repeat the altered course, only you will substitute the word 'south'
for the word 'north.'"
The young man's eyes suddenly gleamed as he turned towards the
instrument, but Crawshay smiled with grim understanding.
"Let me tell you that I understand the wireless," he said
impressively. "You will give the message exactly as I have told you or
we finish things up on the spot. I think you had better. It's a matter
of compulsion, you know--in fact I'll explain matters to Mr. Jocelyn
Thew, if you like."
The young man's eyes were round with amazement.
"Jocelyn Thew!" he repeated.
"Precisely. You needn't look so terrified. It isn't you who have given
away. Now what are you going to do?"
The young man swung round to his instrument. Crawshay released his
hand, stepping a little back.
"You are going to send the message, then?"
"Yes!" was the sullen reply.
"Capital!" Crawshay exclaimed, cautiously subsiding into a chair. "Now
you'll go on every ten minutes until I tell you to stop."
Robins bent over his task, and again the crackling waves broke away
from their prison. Once his finger hesitated. He glanced
surreptitiously at Crawshay. "Four degrees south," Crawshay
The night wore on. Every ten minutes the message was sent. Then there
followed a brief silence, spent generally by Robins with his head
drooped upon his clasped arms; by Crawshay in unceasing vigil. Just as
the first faint gleam of daylight stole into the little turret
chamber, came the long-waited-for reply. The young man wrote down the
few lines and passed them over. Crawshay, who had risen to his feet,
glanced at them, nodded, and thrust the paper into his pocket.
"That seems quite satisfactory," he said coldly. "Now ask the
_Blucher_ her exact course?"
Robins sat for a moment motionless. He felt Crawshay's presence
towering over him, felt again the spell of his softly-spoken command.
"Don't waste any time, please. Do as I tell you."
Robins obeyed. In less than a quarter of an hour he handed over
another slip of paper. Crawshay thrust it into his pocket.
"That concludes our business," he said. "Now let me see if I remember
enough of this apparatus to put it out of action."
He bent over the instrument, removed some plugs, turned some screws,
and finally placed in his pocket a small concealed part of the
mechanism. Then he turned towards Robins.
"You can leave here now," he directed. "I shall lock the place up."
Robins had in some measure recovered himself. He was a quiet,
hollow-eyed young person, with thick black hair and a thin frame,
about which the uniform of the ship hung loosely. "You are the man
who boarded the steamer from a seaplane, aren't you, and pretended
afterwards to be such a ninny?"
"I am," Crawshay acknowledged.
"How did you get on to this?"
Crawshay raised his eyebrows.
"Sorry," he replied, "that is a matter concerning which I fear that
you will have to restrain your curiosity."
"How did you get in here?"
"By means of a duplicate key which I obtained from the purser. I hid
in your bunk there and drew the curtains. Quite a comfortable
mattress, yours. You'll have to change your sleeping quarters, though."
"What is going to happen to me?" the young man enquired.
"Probably nothing extreme. You were philosophical enough to accept the
situation. If," Crawshay went on more slowly, "you had falsified a
single word of those messages, your end would have been somewhat
abrupt and your destination according to your past life. As it is, you
can go where you choose now and report to the captain later on in the
morning, after I have had a talk with him."
"My kit is all in here."
Crawshay laid his hand upon the operator's shoulder in peremptory
"Then you will have to do without it for the present," he replied
The young man turned on his heel and disappeared without a word.
Crawshay glanced once more at the dismantled instrument, then followed
Robins on to the deck, carefully locking the door behind him. A grey,
stormy morning was just breaking, with piles of angry clouds creeping
up, and showers of spray breaking over the ship on the weather side.
He chose a sheltered spot and stood for a few moments breathing in the
strong salt air. Notwithstanding his success, he was unaccountably
depressed. As far as he could see across the grey waste of waters,
there was no sign of any passing ship, but the eastern horizon was
blurred by a low-hanging bank of sinister-looking clouds. Suddenly a
voice rang out, hailing him. It was the captain descending from
"Come and have a cup of coffee with me in my room, Mr. Crawshay," he
Crawshay felt himself suddenly back again in the world of real
happenings. His depression passed as though by magic. After all, he
had won the first trick, and the next move was already forming up in
The captain sank into his easy-chair a little wearily. It had been a
long and rather trying vigil. His steward filled two cups with coffee
and at a sign from his master withdrew.
"I have been compelled," Crawshay announced, stirring his coffee, "to
dismantle your wireless."
"The devil you have!"
"Also, to speak words of wisdom to young Robins. I detected him
signalling our location to the _Blucher_."
The captain set down his coffee cup.
"Mr. Crawshay," he said, "this is a very serious accusation."
"It isn't an accusation at all--it's a fact," Crawshay replied.
"Luckily, he hadn't picked her up when I got there. He signalled our
exact location and our course a dozen times or more, without response.
Then I took a hand in the game."
"Exactly what happened?" the captain enquired.
"Well, I borrowed a key from Mr. Dix, and whilst the young man was
down at his supper I concealed myself in his bunk. I listened to him
for a short time, and then I intervened."
"Did he make any trouble?"
"He had no chance," Crawshay explained, a little grimly. "I was first
off the mark. On this piece of paper," he added, smoothing it out,
"you will find Robins' calculations as to our whereabouts, which I
took as being correct. These, you understand, were not picked up.
Lower down you will see the message which he sent under my
superintendence later on--"
"Superintendence?" the captain interrupted.
"At the point of my revolver," Crawshay explained. "This message was
picked up by the _Blucher_."
The captain scanned the calculations eagerly.
"Wish you'd given us a little more room," he muttered. "However, it
will be all right unless we get fog. We might blunder into one
"This little incident," Crawshay continued, crossing his legs,
"confirms certain impressions with which I came on board. I think that
the scheme was to get the documents on board this steamer, and then,
in order to avoid the inevitable search at Liverpool, I fancy it was
arranged that the _Blucher_ should be on the lookout for us and take
over the messenger, whoever he may be, and the documents. It's a
straightforward, simple little scheme, which we have now to look at
from our own point of view. In the first place, the _Blucher_ is now
very much less likely to capture us. In the second place, I would
suggest that in case the _Blucher_ should happen to blunder across us,
we make the search at once instead of in Liverpool."
"What, search every one on board?" the captain asked.
"Suspected persons only."
"Exactly who are they?" "First and foremost, Mr. Jocelyn Thew."
"Mr. Phillips and his entourage."
"What, the man who is supposed to be dying?"
"I will admit," Crawshay said, "that this is more or less guesswork,
but I suspect every one with whom Jocelyn speaks."
"Great heavens, you are not thinking of Miss Beverley!" the captain
"I fail utterly to understand her acquaintance with Jocelyn Thew,"
Crawshay confided. "I do not propose, however, that you interfere with
these people for the moment. What I do ask is that Jocelyn Thew's
effects are searched, and at once."
"It's a thing that's never happened before on any steamer I've
commanded," the captain said reluctantly, "but if it has to be done, I
will do it myself."
"What chance of fog is there?" his companion enquired.
"We shall get some within twenty-four hours, for certain. It's coming
up from the west now."
"Then the sooner you make a start with Mr. Jocelyn Thew, the better,"
Crawshay suggested. "I don't think there's one chance in a hundred
that he'd have those documents in any place where we should be likely
to find them by any ordinary search, but you can never tell. The
cleverest men often adopt the most obvious methods."
The captain yawned.
"I'll have two hours' sleep," he decided, "then Dix and I will tackle
the job. I don't suppose you want to be in it?" "I should prefer
not," Crawshay replied. "I'll follow your example," he added, rising
to his feet.
The habits of Mr. Jocelyn Thew on shore were doubtless most regular,
but on board ship he had developed a proclivity for sleeping until
long after the first breakfast gong. About half-past eight that
morning, he was awakened from a sound sleep by a tap on his door, and
instead of the steward with his hot water, no less a person entered
than the captain, followed by the purser. Jocelyn sat up in his bunk
and rubbed his eyes.
"Good morning, gentlemen," he said. "Anything wrong?"
The captain undid the catch of the door and closed it behind him.
"Are you sufficiently awake to listen to a few words from me on a
subject of importance, Mr. Thew?" he asked.
"Certainly," was the prompt reply.
"Very well, then," the captain proceeded, "I shall commence by taking
you into my confidence. There is an impression on the part of the
British and American Secret Services that an attempt is being made to
convey documents of great importance, and containing treasonable
matter, to Europe by some one on board this ship."
Jocelyn Thew, who was attired in silk pyjamas of very excellent
quality, swung himself out of the bunk and sat upon the side of it.
The captain was an observant man and of somewhat luxuriant tastes
himself, and he fully appreciated the texture and quality of the
suspected man's night apparel. "This sounds remarkably interesting,"
Jocelyn said. "Very kind of you, Captain, I am sure, to come and tell
me about it."
"My visit," the captain continued, a little drily, "had a more
definite object. It is my duty to explain to you that the
circumstances of this voyage are unprecedented. We are going to take
liberties with our passengers which in normal times would not be
Jocelyn Thew pushed the knob with his left hand and let some cold
water run into his basin. Then he dabbed his eyes for several moments
with his fingers.
"Yes, I seem to be awake," he remarked. "Tell me about these
"To begin with, I am going to search your stateroom and baggage--or
rather they are going to be searched under my supervision. Your trunk
from the hold has already been brought up and is in the gangway."
"It seems to me," Jocelyn said, sitting, as Mr. Dix expressed it
afterwards, like a tiger about to spring, "that you've been listening
to that crazy loon, Crawshay."
"I am not at liberty," the captain rejoined, "to divulge the source
from which my information came. I am only able to acquaint you with my
intentions, and to trust that you will offer no obstruction."
"The obstruction which I could offer against the captain of a ship and
his crew would be a waste of energy," Jocelyn observed, with fine
sarcasm. "At the same time, I protest most bitterly against my things
being touched. Any search you deemed necessary could be undertaken at
Liverpool by the Customs officers in the usual way. I consider that
this entrance into my stateroom on the high seas, and this arbitrary
resolve of yours to acquaint yourself with the nature of my belongings
is indefensible and a gross insult."
"I am sorry that you take it this way, Mr. Thew," the captain
regretted. "Any complaints you feel it right to make can be addressed
to the company's agents in Liverpool. At present I must proceed with
what I conceive to be my duty. Do you care to hand Mr. Dix your keys?"
"I will see Mr. Dix damned first!" Jocelyn assured him.
The captain shrugged his shoulders, called to the steward, who was
waiting outside, and the search commenced. They opened drawers, they
turned up the carpet. They invited Jocelyn Thew to sit upon the couch
whilst they ripped open the bed, and they invited him to return to the
bed whilst they ripped up the couch. His personal belongings, his
dressing-case and his steamer trunk were gone through with painstaking
care. His trunk, which was then dragged in, was ransacked from top to
bottom. In due course the search was concluded, and except that his
wearing apparel seemed chosen with extraordinary care and taste,
nothing in any way suspicious was discovered. The captain made haste
to acknowledge the fact.
"Well, Mr. Thew," he announced, "I have done my duty and you are out
of it with a clean sheet. Have you any objection to answering a few
questions?" "Every objection in the world," Jocelyn Thew replied.
The purser ventured to intervene.
"Come, Mr. Thew," he said, "you're an Englishman, aren't you?"
A light flashed in Thew's eyes.
"I shall break the promise I made to the captain just now," he
declared, "and answer that one question, at any rate. I thank God I
Both men were a little startled. Jocelyn's cold, clear voice, his
manner and bearing, were all so essentially Saxon. The captain,
however, recovered himself quickly.
"If the tone of your voice is any index to your feelings, Mr. Thew,"
he said, "you appear to have some grudge against England. In that case
you can scarcely wonder at the suspicions which have attached
themselves to you."
"Suspicions!" Jocelyn repeated sarcastically. "Well, present my
compliments to the wonderful Mr. Crawshay! I presume that I am at
liberty now to take my bath?"
"In one moment, Mr. Thew. Even though you do not choose to answer
them, there are certain questions I intend to ask. The first is, are
you prepared to produce the Marconigram which you received
"How do you know that I received one?"
"The fact has come to my knowledge," the captain said drily.
"You had better ask the operator about it."
"The operator is at the present moment under arrest," was the terse
reply. If the news were a shock to Thew, he showed it in none of the
ordinary ways. His face seemed to fall for a moment into harder lines.
His mouth tightened and his eyes flashed.
"Under arrest?" he repeated. "More of Crawshay's tomfoolery, I
"More of Mr. Crawshay's tomfoolery," the captain acknowledged. "Robins
is accused of having received a Marconigram of which he took no note,
and which he handed to a passenger. He is also accused of attempting
to communicate with an enemy raider."
A peculiar smile parted Jocelyn's lips.
"You seem to wish to make this steamer of yours the _mise-en-scene_ of
a dime novel, Captain," he observed. "I accept the part of villain
with resignation--but I should like to have my bath."
"You don't propose to tell me, then," his questioner persisted, "the
contents of that message?"
"I have no recollection of having received one," Jocelyn replied
coolly. "You are making me very late for breakfast."
They left him with a brusque word of farewell, to which he did not
reply. Jocelyn, in a dark-green silk dressing gown, with a huge sponge
and various silver-topped bottles, departed for the bathroom. The
captain and the purser strolled up on deck.
"What do you make of that fellow, Dix?" the former asked.
The purser coughed.
"If you ask me, sir," he replied, "I think that Mr. Crawshay has got
hold of the wrong end of the stick."
Katharine came on deck that morning in a somewhat disturbed frame of
mind. It was beginning to dawn upon her that her position as sick
nurse to Mr. Phillips was meant to be a sinecure. She was allowed to
sit by the sick man's side sometimes whilst the doctor took a
promenade or ate a meal in the saloon, but apart from that, the usual
exercise of her duties was not required from her. She was forced to
admit that there was something mysterious about the little stateroom,
the suffering man, and the doctor who watched him speechlessly
night and day.
She was conscious presently that Crawshay, who had been walking up and
down the deck, had stopped before the chair on which she lay extended.
She greeted him without enthusiasm.
"Are you taking one of your health constitutionals, Mr. Crawshay?" she
"Not altogether," he replied. "May I sit down for a moment?"
"Of course! I don't think any one sits in that chair."
He took his place by her side, deliberately removed his muffler and
unfastened his overcoat. It struck her, from the first moment she
heard his voice, that his manner was somehow altered. She was
altogether unprepared, however, for the almost stern directness of his
first question. "Miss Beverley," he began, "will you allow me to ask
you how long you have known Mr. Jocelyn Thew?"
She turned her head towards him and remained speechless for a moment.
It seemed to her that she was looking into the face of a stranger. The
little droop of the mouth had gone. The half-vacuous, half-bored
expression had given place to something altogether new. The lines of
his face had all tightened up, his eyes were hard and bright. She
found herself quite unable to answer him in the manner she
"Are you asking me that question seriously, Mr. Crawshay?"
"I am," he assured her. "I have grave reasons for asking it."
"I am afraid that I do not understand you," she replied stiffly.
"You must change your attitude, if you please, Miss Beverley,"
Crawshay persisted. "Believe me, I am not trying to be impertinent. I
am asking a question the necessity for which I am in a position
"You bewilder me!" she exclaimed.
"That is simply because you looked upon me as a different sort of
person. To tell you the truth, I should very much have preferred that
you continued to look upon me as a different sort of person during
this voyage, but I cannot see my way clear to keep silence on this one
point. I wish to inform you, if you do not know it already, that Mr.
Jocelyn Thew is a dangerous person for you to know, or for you to be
associated with in any shape or form." She would have risen to her
feet but he stopped her.
"Please look at me," he begged.
She obeyed, half against her will.
"I want you to ask yourself," he went on, "whether you do not believe
that I am your well-wisher. What I am saying to you, I am saying to
save you from a position which later on you might bitterly regret."
She was conscious of a quality in his tone and manner entirely strange
to her, and she found any form of answer exceedingly difficult. The
anger which she would have preferred to have affected seemed, in the
face of his earnestness, out of place.
"It seems to me," she said, "that you are assuming something which
does not exist. I am not on specially intimate terms with Mr. Jocelyn
Thew. I have not talked to him any more than to any other casual
"Is that quite honest?" he asked quietly. "Isn't it true that
Jocelyn Thew is interested in your mysterious patient?"
"What do you mean?"
"Just what I say," he replied. "I happen also to have very grave
suspicions concerning the presence on this ship of Mr. Phillips and
Her fingers gripped the side of her deck chair. She leaned a little
"What concern is all this of yours?" she demanded.
"Never mind," he answered. "I am risking more than I should like to
say in telling you as much as I have told you. I cannot believe that
you would consciously associate yourself with a disgraceful and
unpatriotic conspiracy. That is why I have chosen to risk a great deal
in speaking to you in this way. Tell me what possible consideration
was brought to bear upon you to induce you to accept your present
Katharine sat quite still. The thoughts were chasing one another
through her brain. Then she was conscious of a strange thing. Her
companion's whole expression seemed suddenly to have changed. Without
her noticing any movement, his monocle was in his left eye, his lip
had fallen a little. He was looking querulously out seaward.
"I don't believe," he declared, "that the captain has any idea about
the weather prospects. Look at those clouds coming up. I don't know
how you are feeling, Miss Beverley, but I am conscious of a
Jocelyn Thew had come to a standstill before them. He was wearing no
overcoat and was bare-headed.
"I guess that chill is somewhere in your imagination, Mr. Crawshay,"
he observed. "You are pretty strong in that line, aren't you?"
Crawshay struggled to his feet.
"I have some ideas," he confessed modestly. "I spend my idle moments,
even here, weaving a little fiction."
"And recounting it, I dare say," Jocelyn ventured.
"I am like all artists," Crawshay sighed. "I love an audience. I must
express myself to something. I will wish you good evening, Miss
Beverley. I feel inclined to take a little walk, in case it becomes
too rough later on."
He shuffled away, once more the perfect prototype of the _malade
imaginaire_. Jocelyn Thew watched him in silence until he had
disappeared. Then he turned and seated himself by the girl's side.
"I find myself," he remarked ruminatively, "still a little troubled as
to the precise amount of intelligence which our friend Mr. Crawshay
might be said to possess. I wonder if I might ask; without your
considering it a liberty, what he was talking to you about?"
"About you," she answered.
"Warning me against you."
"Dear me! Aren't you terrified?"
"I am not terrified," she replied, "but I think it best to tell you
that he also has suspicions, absurd though it may seem, of Phillips
and the doctor."
"Why not the purser and captain, while he's about it?" Jocelyn said
coolly. "Every one on this boat seems to have got the nerves. They
searched my stateroom this morning."
"Searched your stateroom?" she repeated. "Do you mean while you were
"Not a bit of it," he replied. "They dragged me up at half-past eight
this morning--the captain, purser and a steward--fetched up my trunk
and searched all my possessions."
"What for?" she asked, with a sudden chill.
He smiled at her reassuringly. "Something they didn't find!
Something," he added, after a slight pause, "which they never
Towards midday, Jocelyn Thew abandoned a game of shuffleboard, and,
leaning against the side of the vessel, gazed steadily up at the
wireless operating room. The lightnings had been playing around the
mast for the last ten minutes without effect. He turned towards one of
the ship's officers who was passing.
"Anything gone wrong with the wireless?" he enquired.
"The operator's ill, sir," was the prompt reply. "We've only one on
board, as it happens, so we are rather in a mess."
Jocelyn strolled away aft, considering the situation. He found
Crawshay seated in an elaborate deck chair and immersed in a novel.
"I hear the wireless has gone wrong," he remarked, stopping in front
Crawshay glanced up blandly.
"What's that?" he demanded. "Wireless? Why, it's been going all the
"There has been no one there to take the messages, though. If anything
happens to us, we shall be in a nice pickle."
"I wish you people wouldn't suggest such things," he said, a little
testily. "I was just trying to get all thought of this most perilous
voyage out of my mind, with the help of a novel here. From which do
you seriously consider we have most to fear," he went on, "mines,
submarines, or predatory vessels of the type of the _Blucher_?"
"The latter, I should think," Jocelyn replied. "They say that
submarines are scarcely venturing so far out just now."
There was a brief silence. Jocelyn Thew was apparently engaged in
trying to fit a cigarette into his holder.
"Specially hard luck on you," he remarked presently, "if anything
happened when you've taken so much trouble to get on board."
"It would be exceedingly annoying," Crawshay declared, with vigour,
"added to which I am not in a state of health to endure a voyage in a
small boat. I have been this morning to look at our places, in case of
accident. I find that I am expected to wield an oar long enough to
break my back."
Jocelyn Thew smiled. The other man's peevishness seemed too natural to
"I expect you'll be glad enough to do your bit, if anything does
happen to us," he observed.
"By-the-by," Crawshay asked, "I wonder what will become of that poor
fellow downstairs--the man who is supposed to be dying, I mean--if
"I heard them discussing it at breakfast time," Jocelyn Thew replied.
"I understand that he has asked specially to be allowed to remain
where he is. There would of course be not the slightest chance of
saving his life. The doctor who is with him--Gant, I think his name
is--told us that anything in the shape of a rough sea, even, would
mean the end of him. He quite understands this himself." Crawshay
"It seems a little brutal but it is common sense," he declared. "In
times of great stress, too, one becomes primitive, and the primitive
instinct is for the strong to save himself. I am not ashamed to
confess," he concluded, "that I have secured an extra lifebelt."
Jocelyn glanced, for a moment scornfully down at the man who had now
picked up his novel again and was busy reading. Crawshay represented
so much the things that he despised in life. It was impossible to
treat or consider him in any way as a rival to be feared. He passed
down the deck and made his way below to the doctor's room. He found
the latter in the act of starting off to see a patient.
"I came around to ask after Robins, the young Marconi man," Jocelyn
explained. "I hear that he was taken ill last night."
The doctor looked at his questioner keenly.
"That is so," he admitted.
"What's wrong with him?"
"I have not thoroughly diagnosed his complaint as yet," was the
careful reply. "I can tell you for a certainty, though, that he will
not be able to work for two or three days."
"It seems very sudden," Jocelyn Thew persisted.
"As a matter of fact, I had some slight acquaintance with him, and I
always thought that he was a remarkably strong young fellow."
The doctor, who had completed his preparations for departure, picked
up his cap and politely showed his visitor out. "You wouldn't care,"
the latter suggested, "to let me go down and have a look at him? I
can't call myself a medical man, but I know something about sickness
and I am quite interested in young Robins."
"I don't think that I shall need a second opinion at present, thank
you," the doctor rejoined, a little drily. "If you wish to see him
later on, you must get permission from the captain. Good morning,
Jocelyn Thew strolled thoughtfully away, found a retired spot upon the
promenade deck behind a boat, lit a very black cigar, and, drawing his
field-glasses from his pocket, searched the horizon carefully. There
was no sign of any passing steamer, not even the faintest wisp of
black smoke anywhere upon the horizon. It was Wednesday to-day, and
they had left New York on Saturday. He drew a sheet of paper from his
pocket and made a few calculations. It was the day and past the time
upon which things were due to happen....
The day wore on very much as most days do on an Atlantic voyage in
early summer. The little handful of passengers, who seemed for the
moment to have cast all anxieties to the winds, played shuffleboard
and quoits, lunched with vigorous appetites, drank tea out on deck,
and indulged in strenuous before-dinner promenades. The sun shone all
day, the sea remained wonderfully calm. Not a trace of any other
steamer was visible from morning until early nightfall, and Jocelyn
Thew walked restlessly about with a grim look upon his face. At dinner
time the captain hinted at fog, and looked doubtfully out of the
open porthole at the oily-looking waste of waters.
"Another night on the bridge for me, I think," he remarked.
Jocelyn Thew leaned forward in his place.
"By-the-by, Captain," he asked, "now that the shipping is so reduced,
do you alter speed for fog?"
The captain filled his glass from the jug of lemonade which, was
always before him.
"Do we alter our speed, eh?" he repeated. "You must remember," he went
on, "that we have Miss Beverley on board. We couldn't afford to give
Miss Beverley a fright."
Jocelyn accepted the evasion with a slight bow. Katharine, who had
come in to dine a little late and seemed graver than usual, smiled at
"Am I the most precious thing on this steamer?" she asked.
"Gallantry," the captain replied, "compels me to say yes!"
"Only gallantry? Have we such a wonderful cargo, then?"
"There are times," was the cautious reply, "when not even the captain
knows exactly what he is carrying."
"You remind me," Jocelyn Thew observed, "of a voyage I once made from
Port Elizabeth to New York, with half-a-dozen I.D.B's on board, and as
many detectives, watching them day and night."
The captain nodded.
"What happened?" he enquired.
"Oh, the detectives arrested the lot of them, I think, got hold of
them on the last day." The captain rose from his place.
"Queer thing," he remarked, "but the law generally does come out on
Jocelyn followed his example a few minutes later, and Katharine
purposely joined him on the way out. She led her companion to the
corner where her steamer chair had been placed, and motioned him to
sit by her side. They were on the weather side of the ship, with a
slight breeze in their faces and a canopy over their heads which
deadened sound. She leaned a little forward.
"Smoke, please." she begged. "I mean it--see."
She lit a cigarette and he followed suit.
"Not a cigar?"
He shook his head.
"I keep them for my hard thinking times."
"Then you were thinking very hard this morning?"
"I was," he admitted.
"And gazing very earnestly out of those field-glasses of yours."
"Mr. Thew," she said abruptly, "it is my impression, although for some
reason or other I am scarcely allowed to go near him, that Mr.
Phillips is dying."
"One knew, of course, that there was that risk," Jocelyn Thew reminded
"I do not think that he can possibly live for twenty-four hours," she
continued. "I was allowed to sit with him for a short time early this
morning. He is beginning to wander in his mind, to speak of his wife
and a sum of money." Jocelyn's fine eyebrows came a little
"Nothing in his appearance or speech indicate the man of wealth or
even of birth. I begin to wonder whether I know the whole truth about
this frantic desire of his to reach England before he dies?"
"I think," Jocelyn Thew said thoughtfully, "that you have been talking
again to Mr. Crawshay."
"Yes," she admitted, "and he has been warning me against you."
"I suppose," Jocelyn ruminated, "the man has a certain amount of
"I do not understand Mr. Crawshay at all," she confessed. "My
acquaintance with him before we met on this steamer was of the
slightest, but his manner of coming certainly led one to believe that
he was a man of courage and determination. Since then he has crawled
about in an overcoat and rubber shoes, and groaned about his ailments
until one feels inclined to laugh at him. Last night he was different
again. He was entirely serious, and he spoke to me about you."
"Do you need to be warned against me?" he asked grimly. "Have I ever
sailed under false colours?"
"Don't," she begged, looking at him with a little quiver of the lips
and a wonderfully soft light in her eyes. "You have never deceived me
in any way except, if at all, as regards this voyage. I made up my
mind this evening that I would ask you, if you cared to tell me, to
take me into your confidence about this man who is dying down below,
and his strange journey. I need scarcely add that I should respect
"I am sorry," he answered. "You ask an impossibility."
"Then there is some sort of conspiracy going on?" she persisted. "Let
me ask you a straightforward question. Is it not true that you have
made me an unknowing participator in an illegal act?"
"It is," he admitted. "I was very sorry to have to do so but it was
necessary. Without your assistance, I should never have been allowed
to bring Phillips across the Atlantic."
"What difference do I make?" she asked.
"You lend an air of respectability and credibility to the whole
thing," he told her. "You are a person of repute, of distinguished
social position, and the object of a good deal of admiration in your
own country. The doctor who accompanies you comes from your own
hospital. No one would believe it possible that either of you could be
concerned in any sort of conspiracy. If that ass Crawshay had not got
on board, I am convinced that there would never have been a breath of
She shivered a little.
"Is it quite kind to bring me into an affair of this sort?" she asked.
"It is a world," he declared cruelly, "in which we fight always for
our own hand or go under. I am fighting for mine, and if I have
occasionally to sacrifice a friend as well as an enemy, I do not
"What has the world done to you," she demanded, "that you should speak
so bitterly?" "Better not ask me that."
"How will the man Phillips' death affect your plans?"
"It will make very little difference either way," he assured her. "We
rather expected him to die."
"And you won't take me any further into your confidence?"
"No further. Your task will be completed at Liverpool. So long as you
leave this steamer in company with the doctor and the ambulance, if
Phillips is still alive, you will be free to return home whenever
"Very well," she said. "You see, I accept my position. I shall go
through with what I have promised, whatever Mr. Crawshay may say.
Won't you in return treat me, if not as a confederate, as a friend?"
He turned and looked at her, met the appealing glance of her soft eyes
for a moment and looked suddenly away.
"I do not belong to the ranks of those, Miss Beverley, from whom it is
well for you to choose your friends."
"But why should I not make my own choice?" she insisted. "I have
always been my own mistress. I have lived with my own ideas, I have
declined to be subject to any one's authority. I am an independent
person. Can't you treat me as such?"
"There are facts," he said, "which can never be ignored. You belong to
the world of wealthy, gently born men and women who comprise what is
called Society. I belong, and have belonged all my life, to a race of
outcasts." "Don't!" she begged.
"It is true," he repeated doggedly.
"But what do you mean by outcasts?"
"Criminals, if you like it better. I have broken the law more than
once. There is an unexecuted warrant out against me at the present
moment. You may even see me marched off this steamer at Liverpool
between two policemen."
"But why?" she asked passionately. "Why? What is the motive of it all?
Is it money?"
"I am not in need of money," he told her, "but I have a great and
sacred use for all I can lay my fingers on. If I succeed in my present
enterprise, I shall receive a hundred thousand pounds."
"I value Jerry's life and future at more than that," she declared.
"Will you make a fresh start, Mr. Jocelyn Thew, with twice that sum of
money to your credit?"
He shook his head, but there was a curious change creeping into his
face. For the first time she saw how soft a man's dark-blue eyes may
sometimes become. The slight trembling of his parted lips, too, seemed
to unlock all the cruel, hard lines of his face. He had suddenly the
appearance of a person of temperament--a poet, even a dreamer.
"I could not take money from you, Miss Beverley," he said, "or from
any other woman in the world."
"Upon no conditions?" she whispered softly.
"Upon no conditions," he repeated.
The breeze had dropped, and twilight had followed swiftly upon the
misty sunset. There was something a little ghostly about the light in
which they sat. "I am stifled," she declared abruptly. "Come
They paced up and down the deck once or twice in silence. Then he
paused as they drew near their chairs.
"Miss Beverley," he said, "in case this should be the last time that
we talk confidentially--so that we may put a seal, in fact, upon the
subject of which we have spoken to-night--I would like to tell you
that you have made me feel, during this last half-hour, an emotion
which I have not felt for many years. And I want to tell you this. I
am a lawbreaker. When I told you that there was a warrant out against
me at the present moment, I told you the truth. The charge against me
is a true one, and the penalty is one I shall never pay. I must go on
to the end, and I shall do so because I have a driving impulse behind,
a hate which only action can soothe. But all my sins have been against
men and the doings of men. You will understand me, will you not, when
I say that I can neither take your money, nor accept your friendship
after this voyage is over? You, on your side, can remember that you
have paid a debt."
She sank a little wearily into her chair and looked out through the
gathering mists. It seemed part of her fancy that they gathered him
in, for she heard no sound of retreating footsteps. Yet when she spoke
his name, a few moments later, she found that she was alone.
Throughout the night reigned an almost sepulchral silence, and when
the morning broke, the _City of Boston_, at a scarcely reduced speed,
was ploughing her way through great banks of white fog. The decks, the
promenade rails, every exposed part of the steamer, were glistening
with wet. Up on the bridge, three officers besides the captain stood
with eyes fixed in grim concentration upon the dense curtains of mist
which seemed to shut them off altogether from the outer world. Jocelyn
Thew and Crawshay met in the companionway, a few minutes after
"I can see no object in the disuse of the hooter," Crawshay declared
querulously. "Nothing at sea could be worse than a collision. We are
simply taking our lives in our hands, tearing along like this at
sixteen knots an hour."
"Isn't there supposed to be a German raider out?" the other enquired.
"I think it is exceedingly doubtful whether there is really one in the
Atlantic at all. The English gunboats patrol these seas. Besides, we
are armed ourselves, and she wouldn't be likely to tackle us."
Jocelyn Thew had leaned a little forward. He was listening intently.
At the same time, one of the figures upon the bridge, his hand to his
ear, turned in the same direction.
"There's some one who doesn't mind letting their whereabouts be
known," he whispered, after a moment's pause. "Can't you hear
Crawshay listened but shook his head.
"Can't hear a thing," he declared laconically. "I've a cold in my head
coming on, and it always affects my hearing."
Jocelyn Thew stepped on tiptoe across the deck as far as the rail and
returned in a few minutes.
"There's a steamer calling, away on the starboard bow," he announced.
"She seems to be getting nearer, too. I wonder we don't alter
"Well, I suppose it's the captain's business whether he chooses to
answer or not," Crawshay remarked. "I shall go down to my cabin. This
gazing at nothing gets on my nerves."
Jocelyn Thew returned to his damp vigil. Leaning over the wet wooden
rail, he drew a little diagram on the back of an envelope and worked
out some figures. Then he listened once more, the slight frown upon
his forehead deepening. Finally he tore up his sketch and made his way
to the doctor's room. The doctor was seated at his desk and glanced up
enquiringly as his visitor entered.
"I just looked in to see how young Robins was getting on," Jocelyn
"I am afraid he is in rather a bad way," was the grave reply.
"What is the nature of his illness?"
The doctor shrugged his shoulders. His manner became a little vague.
"I must remind you, Mr. Thew," he said, "that a doctor is not always
at liberty to discuss the ailments of his patients. On board ship
this custom becomes more, even, than mere etiquette. It is, in fact,
against the regulations of the company for us to discuss the maladies
of any passenger upon the steamer."
"I recognise the truth of all that you say," Jocelyn Thew agreed, "but
it happens that I know the young man and his people. Naturally,
therefore, I take an interest in him, and I am sure they would think
it strange if, travelling upon the same steamer, I did not make these
very ordinary enquiries."
"You know his people, do you?" the doctor repeated. "Where does he
come from, Mr. Thew?"
"Somewhere over New Jersey way," was the glib reply, "but I used to
meet his father often in New York. There can be no mystery about his
illness, can there, doctor--no reason why I should not go and
"I have placed the young man in quarantine," was the brief
explanation, "and until he is released no one can go near him."
"Something catching, eh?"
"Something that might turn out to be catching."
Jocelyn Thew shrugged his shoulders and accepted what amounted almost
to a little nod of dismissal. He ascended the staircase thoughtfully
and came face to face with Katharine Beverley, issuing from the music
room. She greeted him with a little exclamation of relief.
"Mr. Thew," she exclaimed, "I have been looking for you everywhere.
Doctor Gant thinks," she added, lowering her voice, "that if you wish
to see his patient alive, you had better come at once." "There is a
change in his condition, then?"
"Yes," she told him gravely.
He stood for a moment thinking rapidly. The girl shivered a little as
she watched the change in his face. Her hospital training had not
lessened her awe and sympathy in the face of death, and it was so
entirely obvious that Jocelyn Thew was considering only what influence
upon his plans this event might have. Finally he turned and descended
the stairs by her side.
"I am not at all sure that it is wise of me to come," he said.
"However, if he is asking for me I suppose I had better."
They made their way into the commodious stateroom upon the saloon
deck, which had been secured for the sick man. He lay upon a small
hospital bed, nothing of him visible save his haggard face, with its
ill-grown beard. His eyes were watching the door, and he showed some
signs of gratification at Jocelyn's entrance. Gant, who was standing
over the bed, turned apologetically towards the latter.
"It's the money," he whispered. "He is worrying about that. I was
obliged to send for you. He called out your name just now, and the
ship's doctor was hanging around."
The newcomer drew a stool to the side of the bed, opened a pocketbook
and counted out a great wad of notes. The dying man watched him with
every appearance of interest.
"Five thousand dollars," the former said at last. "That should bring
in about eleven hundred and fifty pounds. Now watch me, Phillips."
He took an envelope from his pocket, thrust the notes inside, gummed
down the flap, and, drawing a fountain pen from his pocket, wrote an
address. The dying man watched him and nodded feebly.
"These," Jocelyn continued, "are for your wife. The packet shall be
delivered to her within twelve hours of our landing in Liverpool. You
can keep it under your pillow and hand it over to Miss Beverley here.
You trust her?"
The man on the bed nodded feebly and turned slightly towards
Katharine. She bent over him.
"I shall see myself," she promised, "that the money is properly
Phillips smiled and closed his eyes. It was obvious that he had no
more to say. Jocelyn Thew stole softly out, followed, a moment later,
"The doctor thinks I am better away," she whispered. "He won't speak
again. Poor fellow!"
Jocelyn stepped softly up the stairs and drew a little breath of
relief as they reached the promenade deck without meeting any one.
Both seemed to feel the desire for fresh air, and they stepped outside
for a moment. There were tears in Katharine's eyes.
"Of course," she said, a little timidly, "I don't understand this at
all, but it is terribly tragic. Do you think that he would have lived
if he had not undertaken the journey?"
"It was absolutely impossible," her companion assured her. "He was a
dying man from the moment the operation was finished."
"Will he be buried at sea?"
"I think not. He was exceedingly anxious to be buried at his home near
Chester. It isn't a pleasant thing to talk about," Jocelyn went on,
"but they brought his coffin on board with him. It's lying in the
companionway now, covered over with a rug."
"It's a horrible day altogether," she declared, looking out into the
seemingly endless banks of mist.
"Entirely my opinion, Miss Beverley," a voice said in her ear. "I find
it most depressing--and unhealthy. And listen.--Do you hear that?"
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