The Kingdom of the Blind
Surgeon-Major Thomson reeled for a moment and caught at the paling by his side. Then
he recovered himself almost as quickly, and, leaning forward, gazed eagerly at the long,
grey racing-car which was already passing Buckingham Palace and almost out of sight in
the slight morning fog. There was a very small cloud of white smoke drifting away into
space, and a faint smell of gunpowder in the air. He felt his cheek and, withdrawing his
fingers, gazed at them with a little nervous laugh--they were wet with blood.
He looked up and down the broad pathway. For nine o'clock in the morning the Birdcage
Walk was marvellously deserted. A girl, however, who had been driving a small car very
slowly on the other side of the road, suddenly swung across, drew up by the kerb and
leaned towards him.
"Hugh--Major Thomson, what is the matter with you?"
He dabbed his cheek with his pocket handkerchief.
"Nothing," he answered simply.
"Don't be silly!" she exclaimed. "I felt certain that I heard a shot just now, and I saw you
reel and spin round for a moment. And your cheek, too--it's all over blood!"
"A bullet did come my way and just graze my cheek," he admitted. "Most extraordinary
thing. I wonder whether one of those fellows in the Park had an accident with his rifle."
He glanced thoughtfully across towards where a number of khaki-clad figures were dimly
visible behind the railings. Geraldine looked at him severely.
"Of course," she began, "if you really think that I don't know the difference between the
report of a pistol and a rifle shot--"
He interrupted her.
"I was wrong," he confessed. "Forgive me. You see, my head was a little turned. Some
one did deliberately fire at me, and I believe it was from a grey racing-car. I couldn't see
who was driving it and it was out of sight almost at once."
"But I never heard of such a thing!" she exclaimed. "Why on earth should they fire at
you? You haven't any enemies, have you?"
"Not that I know of," he assured her.