Dangerous Days HTML version
Having turned Dunbar and his protective league over to Hutchinson, the general
manager, Clayton had put him out of his mind. But during the week after
Christmas he reached the office early one morning to find that keen and rather
shabby gentleman already there, waiting.
Not precisely waiting, for he was standing by one of the windows, well back from
it, and inspecting the mill yard with sharp, darting glances.
"Hello, Dunbar," said Clayton, and proceeded to shed his fur-lined coat. Dunbar
turned and surveyed him with the grudging admiration of the undersized man for
the tall one.
"Cold morning," he said, coming forward. "Not that I suppose you know it." He
glanced at the coat.
"I thought Hutchinson said that you'd gone away."
"Been to Washington. I brought something back that will interest you."
>From inside his coat he produced a small leather case, and took from it a
number of photographs.
"I rather gathered, Mr. Spencer," he said dryly, "when I was here last that you
thought me an alarmist. I don't know that I blame you. We always think the other
fellow may get it, but that we are safe. You might glance at those photographs."
He spread them out on the desk. Beyond the windows the mill roared on; men
shouted, the locomotive whistled, a long file of laborers with wheelbarrows went
by. And from a new building going up came the hammering of the riveting-
machines, so like the rapid explosions of machine guns.
"Interesting, aren't they?" queried Dunbar. "This is a clock-bomb with a strap for
carrying it under a coat. That's a lump of coal - only it isn't. It's got enough
explosive inside to blow up a battleship. It's meant for that, primarily. That's fire-
confetti - damnable stuff - understand it's what burned up most of Belgium. And
that's a fountain-pen. What do you think of that? Use one yourself, don't you?
Don't leave it lying around. That's all"
"What on earth can they do with a fountain-pen?"
"One of their best little tricks," said Mr. Dunbar, with a note of grudging
admiration in his voice. "Here's a cut of the mechanism. You sit down, dip your
pen, and commence to write. There's the striking pin, or whatever they call it. It
hits here, and - good night!"
"Do you mean to say they're using things like that here?"
"I mean to say they're planning to, if they haven't already. That coal now, you'd
see that go into your furnaces, or under your boilers, or wherever you use it, and
wouldn't worry, would you?"
"Are these actual photographs?"
"Made from articles taken from a German officer's trunk, in a neutral country. He
was on his way somewhere, I imagine."
Clayton sat silent. Then he took out his fountain-pen and surveyed it with a smile.