The Secret Adversary
IT was 2 p.m. on the afternoon of May 7, 1915. The Lusitania had been struck by two
torpedoes in succession and was sinking rapidly, while the boats were being launched
with all possible speed. The women and children were being lined up awaiting their turn.
Some still clung desperately to husbands and fathers; others clutched their children
closely to their breasts. One girl stood alone, slightly apart from the rest. She was quite
young, not more than eighteen. She did not seem afraid, and her grave, steadfast eyes
looked straight ahead.
"I beg your pardon."
A man's voice beside her made her start and turn. She had noticed the speaker more than
once amongst the first-class passengers. There had been a hint of mystery about him
which had appealed to her imagination. He spoke to no one. If anyone spoke to him he
was quick to rebuff the overture. Also he had a nervous way of looking over his shoulder
with a swift, suspicious glance.
She noticed now that he was greatly agitated. There were beads of perspiration on his
brow. He was evidently in a state of overmastering fear. And yet he did not strike her as
the kind of man who would be afraid to meet death!
"Yes?" Her grave eyes met his inquiringly.
He stood looking at her with a kind of desperate irresolution.
"It must be!" he muttered to himself. "Yes--it is the only way." Then aloud he said
abruptly: "You are an American?"
"A patriotic one?"
The girl flushed.
"I guess you've no right to ask such a thing! Of course I am!"
"Don't be offended. You wouldn't be if you knew how much there was at stake. But I've
got to trust some one--and it must be a woman."
"Because of 'women and children first.' " He looked round and lowered his voice. "I'm
carrying papers--vitally important papers. They may make all the difference to the Allies