The Kingdom of the Blind HTML version

Chapter 9
Considering the crowded state of the waiting-room and the number of highly important
people who were there for the same purpose, Surgeon-Major Thomson seemed to have
remarkably little difficulty in procuring the interview he desired. He was conducted by a
boy scout into a room on the second floor of the War Office, within a few minutes of his
arrival. A tall, grey-haired man in the uniform of a general looked up and nodded with an
air of intimacy as soon as the door had been closed.
"Sit down, Thomson. We've been expecting you. Any news?"
"I have come to you for that, sir," the other replied.
The General sighed.
"I am afraid you will be disappointed," he said. "I received your report and I went to a
certain official myself--saw him in his own house before breakfast this morning. I had
reports of three other men occupying responsible positions in the city, Thomson, against
whom there was really tangible and serious evidence. Our friend had the effrontery
almost to laugh at me."
There was a little glitter in Thomson's eyes.
"These damned civilians!" he murmured softly. "They've done their best to ruin Great
Britain by crabbing every sort of national service during the last ten years. They feed and
pamper the vermin who are eating away the foundations of the country, and, damn it all,
when we put a clear case to them, when we show them men whom we know to be
dangerous, they laugh at us and tell us that it isn't our department! They look upon us as
amateurs and speak of Scotland Yard with bated breath. My God! If I had a free hand for
ten minutes, there'd be two Cabinet Ministers eating bread and water instead of their
dinners to-night."
The General raised his eyebrows. He knew Thomson well enough to be aware how
unusual such an ebullition of feeling on his part was.
"Got you a bit worked up, Major," he remarked.
"Isn't it enough to make any man's blood boil?" the other replied. "The country to-day
looks to its army and its navy to save it from the humiliation these black-coated parasites
have encouraged, and yet even now we haven't a free hand. You and I, who control the
secret service of the army, denounce certain men, upon no slight evidence, either, as
spies, and we are laughed at! One of those very blatant idiots whose blundering is costing
the country millions of money and thousands of brave men, has still enough authority to
treat our reports as o much waste paper."