The Kingdom of the Blind
Mr. Gordon Jones rose to his feet. It had been an interesting, in some respects a
momentous interview. He glanced around the plain but handsomely furnished office, a
room which betrayed so few evidences of the world-flung power of its owner.
"After all, Sir Alfred," he remarked, smiling, "I am not sure that it is Downing Street
which rules. We can touch our buttons and move armies and battleships across the face of
the earth. You pull down your ledger, sign your name, and you can strike a blow as
deadly as any we can conceive."
The banker smiled.
"Let us be thankful, then," he said, "that the powers we wield are linked together in the
Mr. Gordon Jones hesitated.
"Such things, I know, are little to you, Sir Alfred," he continued, "but at the same time I
want you to believe that his Majesty's Government will not be unmindful of your help at
this juncture. To speak of rewards at such a time is perhaps premature. I know that
ordinary honours do not appeal to you, yet it has been suggested to me by a certain
person that I should assure you of the country's gratitude. In plain words, there is nothing
you may ask for which it would not be our pleasure and privilege to give you."
Sir Alfred bowed slightly.
"You are very kind," he said. "Later on, perhaps, one may reflect. At present there seems
to be only one stern duty before us, and for that one needs no reward."
The two men parted. Sir Alfred rose from the chair in front of his desk and threw himself
into the easy-chair which his guest had been occupying. A ray of city sunshine found its
way through the tangle of tall buildings on the other side of the street, lay in a zigzag path
across his carpet, and touched the firm lines of his thoughtful face. He sat there, slowly
tapping the sides of the chair with his pudgy fingers. So a great soldier might have sat,
following out the progress of his armies in different countries, listening to the roar of
their guns, watching their advance, their faltering, their success and their failures. Sir
Alfred's vision was in a sense more sordid in many ways more complicated, yet it too,
had its dramatic side. He looked at the money-markets of the world, he saw exchanges
rise and fall. He saw in the dim vista no khaki-clad army with flashing bayonets, but a
long, thin line of black-coated men with sallow faces, clutching their money-bags.
There was a knock at the door and his secretary entered.
"Captain Granet has been here for some time, sir," he announced softly.