Secret Service

Brady Cyrus Townsend
Secret Service

BOOK IV
WHAT HAPPENED AT ELEVEN O’CLOCK

CHAPTER XVI
THE TUMULT IN HUMAN HEARTS

Of the many frightful nights in Richmond during the siege, that night was one of the worst. The comparative calmness of the earlier hours of repose of the quiet April evening gave way to pandemonium. The works at Petersburg, desperately held by the Confederates, were miles away from the city to the southward, but such was the tremendous nature of the cannonading that the shocking sounds seemed to be close at hand. Children cowered, women shuddered, and old men prayed as they thought of the furious onslaughts in the battle raging.

The Richmond streets were filled with people, mostly invalids, non-combatants, women, and children. A tremendous attack was being launched by the besiegers somewhere, it was evident. Urgent messengers from General Lee called every reserve out of the garrison at Richmond, and the quiet streets and country highways awoke instantly to life. Such troops as could be spared moved to the front at the double-quick. Every car of the dilapidated railroad was pressed into service. Those who could not be transported by train went on horseback or afoot. The youngest boy and the oldest man alike shouldered their muskets, and with motley clothes, but with hearts aflame, marched to the sound of the cannon. The women, the sick, the wounded and invalid men and the children waited.

Morning would tell the tale. Into the city from which they marched, men and boys would come back; an army nearly as great as had gone forth, but an army halting, maimed, helpless, wounded, suffering, shot to pieces. They had seen it too often not to be able to forecast the scene absolutely. They knew with what heroic determination their veterans, under the great Lee, were fighting back the terrific attacks of their brothers in blue, under the grimly determined Grant. They could hear his great war-hammer ringing on their anvil; a hammer of men, an anvil of men. Plan or no plan, success or no success of some Secret Service operations, some vital point was being wrestled for in a death-grapple between two armies; and all the offensive capacities of the one and all the defensive resources of the other were meeting, as they had been meeting during the long years.

In a time like that, of public peril and public need, private and personal affairs ought to be forgotten, but it was not so. Love and hate, confidence and jealousy, faithfulness and disloyalty, self-sacrifice and revenge, were still in human hearts. And these feelings would put to shame even the passions engendered in the bloody battles of the fearful warfare.

Edith Varney, for instance, had gone out of the telegraph office assured that the sacrifice she had made for her lover had resulted in the betrayal of her country; that Thorne had had not even the common gratitude to accede to her request, although she had saved his life, and, for the time being, his honour. Every cannon-shot, every crashing volley of musketry that came faintly or loudly across the hills seemed pointed straight at her heart. For all she knew, the despatch had been sent, the cunningly devised scheme had been carried out, and into some undefended gap in the lines the Federal troops were pouring. The defence would crumble and the Army would be cut in two; the city of Richmond would be taken, and the Confederacy would be lost.

And she had done it! Would she have done it if she had known? She had certainly expected to establish such a claim upon Thorne by her interposition that he could not disregard it. But if she had known positively that he would have done what she thought he did, would she have sent him to his death? She put the question to herself in agony. And she realised with flushes of shame and waves of contrition that she would not, could not have done this thing. She must have acted as she had, whatever was to come of it. Whatever he was, whatever he did, she loved that man. She need not tell him, she need tell no one, there could be no fruition to that love. She must hide it, bury it in her bosom if she could, but for weal or woe she loved him above everything else, and for all eternity.

Where was he now? Her interposition had been but for a few moments. The truth was certain to be discovered. There would be no ultimate escape possible for him. She heard shots on occasion nearer than Petersburg, in the city streets. What could they mean? Short, short would be his shrift if they caught him. Had they caught him? Certainly they must, if they had not. She realised with a thrill that she had given him an opportunity to escape and that he had refused it. The sending of that despatch had been more to him than life. Traitor, spy, Secret Service Agent – was there anything that could be said for him? At least he was faithful to his own idea of duty.

She had met Caroline Mitford waiting in the lower hall of the telegraph office, and the two, convoyed by old Martha, had come home together. Many curious glances had been thrown at them, but in these great movements that were toward, no one molested them. The younger girl had seen the agony in her friend’s face. She had timidly sought to question her, but she had received no answer or no satisfaction to her queries. Refusing Caroline’s proffered services when she reached home, Edith had gone straight to her own room and locked the door.

The affair had been irritating beyond expression to Mr. Arrelsford. It had taken him some time to establish his innocence and to get his release from General Randolph’s custody. Meanwhile, everything that he had hoped to prevent had happened. To do him justice, he really loved Edith Varney, and the thought that her actions and her words had caused his own undoing and the failure of his carefully laid plans, filled him with bitterness, which he vented in increased animosity toward Thorne.

These were bitter moments to Mrs. Varney. She had become somewhat used to her husband being in the thick of things, but it was her boy now that was in the ranks. The noise of the cannon and the passing troops threw Howard into a fever of anxiety which was very bad for him.

And those were dreadful moments to Thorne. What had he done? He had risked everything, was ready to pay everything, would, indeed, be forced to do so in the end, and yet he had not done that which he had intended. Had he been false to his duty and to his country when he refused to send that telegram, being given the opportunity? He could not tell. The ethics of the question were beyond his present solution. The opportunity had come to him through a piece of sublime self-sacrifice on the part of the woman, who, knowing him thoroughly and understanding his plan and purpose, had yet perjured herself to save his life.

That life was hers, was it not? He had become her prisoner as much as if she had placed him under lock and key and held him without the possibility of communication with any one. Her honour was involved. No, under the circumstances, he could not send the despatch. The Confederates would certainly kill him if they caught him, and if they did not, and by any providential chance he escaped, his honour would compel him to report the circumstances, the cause of his failure, to his own superiors. Would they court-martial him for not sending the despatch? Would they enter into his feelings, would they understand? Would the woman and her actions be considered by them as determining factors? Would his course be looked upon as justifiable? He could not flatter himself that any one of these things would be so considered by any military court. There would be only two things which would influence his superiors in their judgment of him. Did he get a chance, and having it, did he use it?

The popular idea of a Secret Service Agent, a spy, was that he would stick at nothing. As such men were outside the pale of military brotherhood, so were they supposed to have a code of their own. Well, his code did not permit him to send the despatch when his power to send it had been procured in such a way. It was not so much love for the woman as it was honour – her honour, suddenly put into his keeping – that turned him from the key. When both honour and love were thrown into the scale, there was no possibility of any other action. He could not see any call of duty paramount to them.

He stood looking at Foray for a while, and then, without a further command to that intensely surprised young man, or even a word of explanation, he seized his hat and coat and left the room. Foray was a keen-witted officer, he reviewed the situation briefly, and presently a great light dawned upon him. A certain admiration for Thorne developed in his breast, and as Allison opportunely came back at this juncture, he turned over the telegraph office to his subordinate, and in his turn went out on what he believed to be an exceedingly important errand.

Thorne found the streets full of people. He had not marked the beginning of the cannonading in the tumult of the office, but the lights, the bells pealing alarms from every church-steeple, the trampling of horses and men, and the roll of the gun-carriages apprised him of what was toward. Trusting that Thorne had been able to carry out his part, Grant was attacking the place indicated by “Plan 3” in heavy force.

What was Thorne to do? Obviously attempt to escape from Richmond, although it would be a matter of extreme difficulty on account of the alarm which now aroused every section. He could not go, either, until he had seen his brother. He surmised that he was dead, but he could not know that; and he determined not to attempt to leave without making assurance double sure. It was a duty he owed to his brother, to his father in the Union Army, and to his superiors in the Federal Secret Service. If that brother were alive, he must be at the Varney house. He fancied that he would run as little chance of being observed in the excitement going in that direction as in any other, and he started to make his way there.

 

The fact that Edith was there influenced him also. Was the call of love and the living as great, or greater than the call of duty and the dying or the dead? Who shall say?

And the remote chance that he might be observed on the way was taken by his ever-vigilant enemy; for Arrelsford, upon obtaining his freedom, had sent the troops at the disposal of the Secret Service to hunt him down, and one of them caught sight of him. The shout of the observer apprised him of his discovery. He threw one glance behind him and then ran for his life. He had no especial hope of escaping, but he might get to the Varney house ahead of the soldiers, and he might see his brother, and he might see the woman he loved for a moment before he was taken and killed.

If it had not been for the two he would have stopped and given himself up. Somehow he did not care for life. His life was forfeit to the Federals and the Confederates alike. When she thought to save it, Edith Varney had doomed him. Also he felt that she had damned him. But he ran on and on, doubling and turning on his tracks; white-faced, desperate, his breath coming fainter, his heart beating faster, as he ran.

CHAPTER XVII
WILFRED PLAYS THE MAN

A sharp contrast to the noise outside was presented by the quiet of the Varney house inside. The sewing women, in view of the attack and the movements of the boys and the old men, had separated sooner than they had intended and had gone their several ways. Old Jonas, frightened to death, remained locked up in the closet where he had been left by Arrelsford’s men. Martha was upstairs in Howard’s room, making ready to watch over him during the night.

Caroline Mitford had not gone home. She had sent word that she intended to pass the night at the Varney house. Somehow she thought they seemed to need her. She was standing by one of the long front windows in the drawing-room, now a scene of much disorder because of the recent struggle. Tables were thrust aside out of their places, chairs were turned over, and there was a big dark spot on the carpet where Henry Dumont had poured out his life-blood unavailingly.

Caroline stared out of the window at the flashes of light. She listened, with heaving breast and throbbing heart, to the roar of the cannon and the rattle of musketry. She had heard both many times lately, but now it was different, for Wilfred was there. Mrs. Varney came upon her with her hand pressed against her breast, her face white and staring, tears brimming her eyes, but, as usual, Mrs. Varney was so engrossed with her own tremendous troubles that she had little thought for the girl.

“Caroline,” she began anxiously, “tell me what happened. Edith won’t speak to me. She has locked herself up in her room. What was it? Where has she been? What – ”

“She was at the telegraph office,” answered Caroline in a low voice.

“What did she do there? What happened there?”

“I am not sure.”

“But try to tell me, dear.”

“I would if I could, Mrs. Varney, but I was afraid and ran out and waited for her in the hall. The rest of them – ” The girl broke off as the deep tones of the city bells clanged sharply above the diapason of artillery.

“It’s the alarm bell,” said Mrs. Varney.

“Yes,” said Caroline, “they are calling out the last reserves.”

“Yes; hark to the cannonading. Isn’t it awful?” returned Mrs. Varney. “They must be making a terrible attack to-night. Lieutenant Maxwell was right; that quiet spell was a signal.”

“There goes another battery of artillery,” said Caroline, staring through the window. “A man told us that they were sending them all over to Cemetery Hill. That’s where the fighting is, Cemetery Hill.”

“General Varney’s Division is to the right of that position, or was the last time I heard from him,” said Mrs. Varney anxiously.

The two women looked at each other for a moment, both of them thinking the same thought, to which neither dared give utterance. The object of their thought was the boy, and the continuous flashes of light on the horizon seemed to make the situation more horrible.

“I am afraid they are going to have a bad time of it to-night,” said Caroline, drawing the curtains and turning away from the window.

“I’m afraid so,” was the rejoinder. “Now, try to think, dear, who was at the telegraph office? Can’t you tell me something that occurred that will explain Edith’s silence? She looks like death, and – ”

“I can’t tell you anything except that they arrested Mr. Arrelsford.”

“Mr. Arrelsford! You don’t mean that?”

“Yes, I do,” answered Caroline. “General Randolph, – I went and brought him there, because they wouldn’t send my telegram, – he was in a fearful temper – ”

“But Edith? Can’t you tell me what she did?”

“I can’t, Mrs. Varney, for I don’t know. I waited for her in the hall, and when she came out she couldn’t speak. Then we hurried home. I tried to get her to tell me, but she wouldn’t say a word except that her heart was broken, and that’s all I know, Mrs. Varney, truly, truly.”

“I believe you, my dear. I know you would tell me if you could.”

“I certainly would, for I love – ”

There was a loud ring at the front door. It was evidently unlocked, for, without waiting for an answer, it was thrown open, roughly, and through the hall and into the drawing-room stalked Mr. Arrelsford. He was wildly excited, evidently in a tremendous hurry, and utterly oblivious to manners or anything else. He had been checked and thwarted so many times that he was in a bad temper for anything.

“Is your daughter in the house?” he began roughly, without any further preliminaries or salutation, without even removing his hat.

Mrs. Varney drew herself up and looked at him. But he paid no attention to her at all.

“Answer,” he said harshly.

She bowed her head in the affirmative, scarcely able to speak in her indignation at his manner and bearing.

“I wish to see her.”

“I don’t believe she will care to receive you at present,” returned her mother quietly.

“What she cares to do at present is of small consequence. I must see her at once. Shall I go up to her room with these men, or will you have her down here?”

The room had filled with soldiers as the two spoke together.

“Neither the one nor the other, sir,” said Mrs. Varney, who was not in the least afraid of Mr. Arrelsford or his soldiers, “until I know your business with her.”

“My business, – a few questions, – I’ve got a few questions to ask her. Listen to that noise out yonder? Do you hear those guns and the troops passing by? Now, you know what ‘Attack to-night, Plan 3,’ means.”

“Is that the attack!” asked Mrs. Varney.

“That’s the attack. They are breaking through our lines at Cemetery Hill. That was the place indicated by ‘Plan 3.’ We are rushing to the front all the reserves we have, to the last man and boy, but they may not get there in time.”

“What, may I ask, has my daughter to do with it?”

“Do with it? She did it!” asserted Arrelsford bitterly.

“What!” exclaimed Mrs. Varney, in a great outburst of indignation. “How dare you!”

“We had him in a trap, under arrest, the telegraph under guard, when she brought in that commission. We would have shot him in a moment, but they took me prisoner and let him go.”

“Impossible!” whispered Mrs. Varney. “You don’t mean – ”

“Yes, she did. She put the game in his hands. He got control of the wires and the despatch went through. As soon as I could get to headquarters I explained, and they saw the trick. They rushed the guard back, but the scoundrel had got away. Foray was gone, too, and Allison knew nothing about it, but we’re after him, and if she knows where he is,” he turned as if to leave the room and ascend the stairs, “I will get it out of her.”

“You don’t suppose that my daughter would – ” began Mrs. Varney.

“I suppose everything.”

“I will not believe it,” persisted the mother.

“We can’t wait for what you believe,” said Arrelsford roughly, this time taking a step toward the door.

Mrs. Varney caught him by the arm.

“Let me speak to her,” she pleaded.

“No, I will see her myself.”

But Miss Mitford, who had been the indirect cause of so much trouble, once more interposed. She had listened to him with scarcely less surprise than that developing in Mrs. Varney’s breast. She took a malicious joy in thwarting the Secret Service Agent. She barred the way, her slight figure in the door, with arms extended.

“Where is your order for this?” she asked.

Arrelsford stared at her in surprise.

“Get out of my way,” he said curtly; “I have a word or two to say to you after I have been upstairs.”

“Show me your order,” persisted the girl, who made not the slightest attempt to give way.

“It’s Department business and I don’t require an order.”

“You are mistaken about that,” said Caroline with astonishing resourcefulness. “This is a private house, it isn’t the telegraph office or the Secret Service Department. If you want to go upstairs or see anybody against their will, you will have to bring an order. I don’t know much, but I know enough for that.”

Arrelsford turned to Mrs. Varney.

“Am I to understand, madam,” he began, “that you refuse – ”

But before Mrs. Varney could answer, the soldiers Arrelsford had brought with him gave way before the advent of a sergeant and another party of men. The Sergeant advanced directly to Mrs. Varney, touched his cap to her, and began:

“Are you the lady that lives here, ma’am?”

“Yes, I am Mrs. Varney.”

“I have an order from General Randolph’s office to search this house for – ”

“Just in time,” said Arrelsford, stepping toward the Sergeant; “I will go through the house with you.”

“Can’t go through on this order,” said the Sergeant shortly.

“You were sent here to – ” began Mrs. Varney.

“Yes; sorry to trouble you, ma’am, but we’ll have to be quick about it. If we don’t find him here we’ve got to follow him down Franklin Street; he’s over this way somewhere.”

“Who are you? What do you want?”

“Man named Thorne, Captain of Artillery,” answered the Sergeant; “that’s what he went by, at least. Here, two of you this way! That room in there and the back of the house. Two of you outside,” pointing to the windows. “Cut off those windows. The rest upstairs.”

The men rapidly dispersed, obeying the commands of the Sergeant, and began a thorough search of the house. Caroline Mitford preceded them up the stairs to Edith’s room. Arrelsford, after a moment’s hesitation, stepped toward the door and went out, followed by his men. Without a word of acknowledgment or even a bow to Mrs. Varney, he and his men presently left the house. As he did so, two of the Sergeant’s men reëntered the room, shoving old Jonas roughly before them. The man’s livery was torn and dirty, his head was bound up, and he showed signs of the rough handling he had undergone.

“Where did you get that?” asked the Sergeant contemptuously.

“He was locked in a closet, sir.”

“What were you doing in there?” He turned to the old negro. “If you don’t answer me, we will shoot the life out of you.” He raised his revolver threateningly. “Belongs to you, I reckon,” he said to Mrs. Varney.

“Yes, my butler; they locked him up. Mr. Arrelsford wants him for carrying a message.”

“That’s all right,” said the Sergeant. “If he wants him, he can have him. We’re looking for some one else. Put him back in his closet. Here, this room! Be quick now! Cover that door. Sorry to disturb you, ma’am.”

“Do what you please,” said Mrs. Varney; “I have nothing on earth to conceal.”

As the men hurriedly withdrew to continue their search, the voice of a newcomer was heard on the porch. The words came to them clearly:

“Here, lend a hand, somebody, will you?”

The next moment General Varney’s orderly entered the room, caught sight of the Sergeant, saluted, and then turned to Mrs. Varney.

“I’ve brought back your boy, ma’am,” he said.

“Oh!” exclaimed Mrs. Varney faintly; “what do you mean – ?”

“We never got out to General Varney’s. We ran into a Yankee raiding party, cavalry, down here about three miles. Our home-guard was galloping by on the run to head them off, and before I knew what he was about, the boy was in with ’em, riding like mad. There was a bit of a skirmish, and he got a clip across the neck. Nothing at all, ma’am. He rode back all the way, and – ”

 

“Oh, my boy! He’s hurt – he’s hurt – ”

“Nothing serious, ma’am; don’t upset yourself,” returned the orderly reassuringly.

“Where did you – ”

But that moment the object of their solicitude himself appeared on the scene. The boy was very pale, and his neck was bandaged. Two of the Sergeant’s men supported him.

“Oh, Wilfred!” cried his mother; “my boy!”

“It’s nothing, mother,” said Wilfred, motioning her away. “You don’t understand.” The boy tried to free himself from the men who still held him by the arm. “What do you want to hold me like that for?” he expostulated, as he drew himself away and took a few steps. “You see I can walk,” he protested.

His words were brave, but his performance was weak. His mother came close to him and extended her arms toward him. But Wilfred was a soldier now, and he did not want any scenes. Therefore, with a great effort, he took her hand in as casual a manner as possible, quite like a stranger paying an afternoon call.

“How do you do, mother?” he said. “You didn’t expect me back so soon, did you? I will tell you how it was. Don’t you go away, orderly. I will just rest a minute, and then I will go back with you.” Another outburst of the cannon and the frantic pealing of the alarm bells caught his attention. “See, they are ringing the bells calling out the reserves.” He started toward the door. “I will go right now.”

“No, no, Wilfred,” said his mother, taking his arm; “not now, my son.”

“Not now?” said Wilfred, whose weakness was growing apparent. “Do you hear those – those – those bells and – then tell me not – to go – why – ”

He swayed and tottered.

“Stand by there!” cried the Sergeant.

The two men immediately caught hold of him as he fainted. They carried him to the lounge.

“Find some water, will you?” continued the Sergeant. “Put his head down, ma’am, and he’ll be all right in a minute. He’s only fainted.”

One of the privates who had hurried off in search of water soon came back with a basin full, with which Mrs. Varney laved the boy’s head.

“He’ll be all right in a minute,” said the Sergeant. “Come, men.”

He turned as he spoke, and, followed by the men, left the room, leaving Mrs. Varney with Wilfred and the orderly. It was the latter who broke the silence.

“If there isn’t anything else, ma’am, I believe I’d better report back to the General.”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Varney, “don’t wait. The wound is dressed, isn’t it?”

“Yes; I took him to the Winder Hospital. They said he would be on his feet in a day or two, but he wants to be kept pretty quiet.”

“Tell the General how it happened.”

“Very well, ma’am,” said the orderly, touching his cap and going out.

The next person to enter the room was Caroline Mitford. The noise of the men searching the house was very plain. Having informed Edith of the meaning of the tumult, she had come downstairs to enquire if they had found Thorne. She came slowly within the door – rather listlessly, in fact. The exciting events of the night in which she had taken part had somewhat sapped her natural vivacity, but she was shocked into instant action when she saw Wilfred stretched upon the sofa.

“Oh!” she breathed in a low, tense whisper; “what is it? Is he – ”

“Caroline dear,” said Mrs. Varney, “it is nothing serious. He isn’t badly hurt. He was cut in the neck and fainted. There, there,” – the woman rose from Wilfred’s side and caught the girl, – “don’t you faint, too, dear.”

“I am not going to faint,” said Caroline desperately. She took Mrs. Varney’s handkerchief from the latter’s hand, and dipped it in the water. “I can take care of him,” she continued, kneeling down by her boyish lover. “I don’t need anybody down here at all. The men are going all over the house and – ”

“But, Caroline – ” began Mrs. Varney.

“Mrs. Varney,” returned the girl, strangely quiet, “there’s a heap of soldiers upstairs, looking in all the rooms. I reckon you’d better go and attend to them. They will be in Edith’s room, or Howard’s, in a minute.”

“Yes, yes,” said Mrs. Varney, “and Howard so ill. I must go for a few minutes, anyway. You know what to do?”

“Oh, yes,” answered the girl confidently.

“Bathe his forehead. He isn’t badly hurt, dear. I won’t be long, and he will soon come to, I am sure,” said Mrs. Varney, hastening away.

Presently Wilfred opened his eyes. He stared about him unmeaningly and uncomprehendingly for the moment.

“Wilfred, dear Wilfred,” began the girl in soft, low, caressing tones, “you are not hurt much, are you? Oh, not much! There, you will feel better in just a moment, dear Wilfred.”

“Is there – are you – ?” questioned Wilfred, striving to concentrate his mind on the problem of his whereabouts and her presence.

“Oh, Wilfred, don’t you know me?”

“What are you talking about?” said Wilfred more strongly. “Of course I know you. Where am I?” And as full consciousness came back to him, “What am I doing, anyway? Taking a bath?”

“No, no, Wilfred; you see I am bathing your head. You fainted a little, and – ”

“Fainted!” exclaimed Wilfred in deep disgust. “I fainted!” He made a feeble attempt to rise, but sank back weakly. “Yes, of course, I was in a fight with the Yankees and got wounded somewhere.”

He stopped, puzzled, staring strangely, almost afraid, at Caroline.

“What is it?” asked the girl.

“See here,” he began seriously; “I will tell you one thing right now. I am not going to load you up with a cripple, not much.”

His resignation was wonderful.

“Cripple!” exclaimed Caroline, bewildered.

“I reckon I’ve got an arm knocked off, haven’t I?”

“No, you haven’t, Wilfred; they are both on all right.”

“Perhaps it was a hand that they shot away?”

“Not a single one,” said Caroline.

“Are my – my ears on all right?”

“Yes,” answered the girl. “You needn’t bother about them for a moment.”

Wilfred staked all on the last question.

“How many legs have I got left?”

“All of them,” answered Caroline; “every one.”

“Then, if there’s enough of me left to – to amount to anything – you’ll take charge of it, just the same? How about that?”

“That’s all right,” said the girl, burying her face on his shoulder.

Wilfred got hold of her hand and kissed it passionately. He seemed quite strong enough for that.

“I tried to send you a telegram but they wouldn’t let me,” whispered Caroline suddenly, raising her head and looking at him.

“You did?”

“Yes.”

“What did you say in it?”

But here the girl’s courage failed her.

“Tell me what you said,” persisted Wilfred.

“It was something very nice,” faltered poor Caroline.

“It was, eh?”

“Yes.”

“Was it as nice as this?” asked Wilfred, suddenly lifting his head and kissing her.

“I don’t know about that,” stammered Caroline, blushing a beautiful crimson, “but it was very nice. I wouldn’t have tried to telegraph it if it was something bad, would I?”

“Well, if it was so good,” said Wilfred, “why on earth didn’t you send it?”

“Goodness gracious!” exclaimed Caroline; “how could I when they wouldn’t let me?”

“Wouldn’t let you?”

“I should think not. They had a dreadful time at the telegraph office.”

“At the telegraph office; were you there?” Wilfred made a violent effort to recollect. “I have it,” he said in stronger tones; “they told me at the hospital. I must get up.”

“No, no; you mustn’t,” said Caroline, interposing.

“Don’t,” said Wilfred; “I have to attend to it.” He spoke with a stern, strange decision, entirely foreign to his previous idle love-making. “I know all about Thorne. He gets hold of our Department Telegraph and sends out a false order, weakens our defences at Cemetery Hill.” The boy got to his feet by this time, steadying himself by Caroline’s shoulder. “They are down on us in a moment.” A look of pain, not physical, shot across his face, but he mastered it. “And she gave it to him, the commission; my sister Edith!” he continued bitterly.

“Oh!” said Caroline; “you know – ”

“I know this. If my father were here, he’d see her. As he isn’t here, I will attend to it. Send her to me.”

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