The Kingdom of the Blind HTML version
It was towards the close of an unusually long day's work and Major Thomson sighed with
relief as he realised that at last his anteroom was empty. He lit a cigarette and stretched
himself in his chair. He had been interviewed by all manner of people, had listened to
dozens of suspicious stories. His work had been intricate and at times full of detail. On
the whole, a good day's work, he decided, and he had been warmly thanked over the
wires by a Brigadier-General at Harwich for his arrest and exposure of a man who had in
his possession a very wonderful plan of the Felixstowe land defences. He lit a cigarette
and glanced at his watch. Just then the door was hurriedly opened. Ambrose came in
without even the usual ceremony of knocking. He held a worn piece of paper in his hand.
There was a triumphant ring in his tone as he looked up from it towards his chief.
"I've done it, sir!" he exclaimed. "Stumbled across it quite by accident. I've got the whole
code. It's based upon the leading articles in the Times of certain dates. Here's this last
message--'Leave London June 4th. Have flares midnight Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's
steps, gardens in front of Savoy. Your last report received.'"
"'Leave London June 4th,'" Thomson repeated, glancing at his calendar,--"to-day! 'Have
The clerk nodded.
"I thought of them at once, sir," he agreed. "That's a very plain and distinct warning in a
remarkably complicated code, and it's addressed--to Sir Alfred Anselman."
A smouldering light flashed in Thomson's eyes.
"Ambrose," he declared, "you're a brick. I sha'n't forget this. Just find out at once if the
Chief's in his room, please."
There followed half an hour of breathless happenings. From the Chief's room Thomson
hurried over to the Admiralty. Here he was taken by one of the men whom he had called
to see, on to the flat roof, and they stood there, facing eastwards. Twilight was falling and
there was scarcely a breath of air.
"It's a perfect night," the official remarked. "If they start at the right time, they'll get here
before any one can see them. All the same, we're warning the whole coast, and our gun-
stations will be served all night."
"Shall we have a chance, do you think, of hitting any of them?" Thomson asked.
The sailor winked.