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The Kingdom of the Blind

Chapter 35
About three o'clock the next morning Thomson was awakened by a light touch upon his
shoulder. He sprang up from the couch upon which he had thrown himself. Ambrose was
standing over him. He was still in his room at the War Office, and fully dressed.
"Mr. Gordon Jones has rung up from Downing Street, sir," he announced. "He is with the
Prime Minister. They want to know if you could step across."
"I'll go at once," Thomson agreed,--"just sponge my eyes and have a brush up. Nothing
else fresh, Ambrose?"
"Nothing at all sir," the young man replied. "All the newspapers in London have rung up
but of course we have not answered any of them. You'll be careful outside, please? There
isn't a single light anywhere, and the streets are like pitch. A man tried to use an electric
torch on the other side of the way just now, and they shot him. There's a double line of
sentries all round from Whitehall corner."
"No flares this time, eh?" Thomson muttered. "All right, Ambrose, I think I can feel my
way there."
He descended into the street but for a few moments he found himself hopelessly lost at
sea. So far as he could see there was no light nor any glimmer of one. He reached the
corner of the street like a blind man, by tapping the kerbstone with his cane. Arrived here,
he stood for a moment in the middle of the road, bareheaded. There was not a breath of
wind anywhere. He made his way carefully down towards Downing Street, meeting few
people, and still obliged to grope rather than walk. Along Downing Street he made his
way by the railings and rang the bell at last at the Premier's house. He was shown at once
into the council room. The four or five men who were seated around a table, and who
looked up at his entrance, bore every one of them, household names. The Premier held
out his hand.
"Good evening, Major Thomson," he began. "Please sit down and join us for a moment."
Thomson was a little surprised at the gathering.
"You'll forgive my suggesting that this is likely to be a marked spot to-night," he said.
The Premier smiled.
"Well, you could scarcely expect us to hide, could you, Major Thomson?" he remarked.
"In any case, there is not one of us who is not prepared to share what the other citizens of
London have to face. The country for the women and children, if you please. We gather,
sir, that it is chiefly through you that we are in the fortunate position of being prepared to-
night."
 
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