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- The Devil's Paw - 20/44 -
is heard it is heard in a righteous cause."
"Is there a more righteous cause in the world than the cause of peace?" Fenn asked sharply.
"Not if that peace be just and reasonable," the Bishop replied, "not if that peace can bring to an end this horrible and bloody struggle."
"We shall see to that," Fenn declared, with a self-satisfied air.
"You have by now, I suppose, the terms proposed by your--your kindred body in Germany?"
Nicholas Fenn stroked his moustache. There was a frown upon his forehead.
"I expect to have them at any moment," he said, "but to tell you the truth, at the present moment they are not available."
"But I thought--"
"Just so," the other interrupted. "The document, however, was not where we expected to find it."
"Surely that is a very serious complication?"
"It will mean a certain delay if we don't succeed in getting hold of it," Fenn admitted. "We intend to be firm about the matter, though."
The Bishop's expression was troubled.
"Julian Orden," he said, "is my godson."
"Necessity knows neither friendship nor relationship," Fenn pronounced didactically. "Better ask no questions, sir. These details do not concern you."
"They concern my conscience," was the grave reply. "Ours is an earnest spiritual effort for peace, a taking away from the hands of the politicians of a great human question which they have proved themselves unable to handle. We should look, therefore, with peculiar care to the means we adopt."
Nicholas Fenn nodded. He lit a very pungent cigarette from a paper packet by his side.
"You and I, Bishop," he said, "are pacifists in the broadest meaning of the word, but that does not mean that we may not sometimes have to use force to attain our object. We have a department which alone is concerned with the dealing of such matters. It is that department which has undertaken the forwarding and receipt of all communications between ourselves and our friends across the North Sea. Its operations are entirely secret, even from the rest of the Council. It will deal with Julian Orden. It is best for you not to interfere, or even to have cognisance of what is going on."
"I cannot agree," the Bishop protested. "An act of unchristian violence would be a flaw in the whole superstructure which we are trying to build up."
"Let us discuss some other subject," Fenn proposed.
"Pardon me," was the firm reply. "I have come here to discuss this one."
Nicholas Fenn looked down at the table. His expression was not altogether pleasant.
"Your position with us, sir," he said, "although much appreciated, does not warrant your interference in executive details."
"Nevertheless," the Bishop insisted, "you must please treat me reasonably in this matter, Mr. Fenn. Remember I am not altogether extinct as a force amongst your followers. I have three mass meetings to address this week, and there is the sermon next Sunday at Westminster Abbey, at which it has been agreed that I shall strike the first note of warning. I am a helper, I believe, worth considering, and there is no man amongst you who risks what I risk."
"Exactly what are you asking from me?" Fenn demanded, after a moment's deliberation.
"I wish to know the whereabouts and condition of Julian Orden."
"The matter is one which is being dealt with by our secret service department," Fenn replied, "but I see no reason why I should not give you all reasonable information. The young man in question asked for trouble, and to a certain extent he has found it."
"I understand," the Bishop reminded his companion, "that he has very nearly, if not altogether, compromised himself in his efforts to shield Miss Abbeway."
"That may be so," Fenn admitted, "but it doesn't alter the fact that he refuses to return to her the packet which she entrusted to his care."
"And he is still obdurate?"
"Up to now, absolutely so. Perhaps," Fenn added, with a slightly malicious smile, "you would like to try what you can do with him yourself?"
The Bishop hesitated.
"Julian Orden," he said, "is a young man of peculiarly stubborn type, but if I thought that my exhortations would be of any benefit, I would not shrink from trying them, whatever it might cost me."
"Better have a try, then," Fenn suggested. "If we do not succeed within the next twenty-four hours, I shall give you an order to see him. I don't mind confessing," he went on confidentially, "that the need for the production of that document is urgent, apart from the risk we run of having our plans forestalled if it should fall into the hands of the Government."
"I presume that Miss Abbeway has already done her best?"
"She has worn herself out with persuasions."
"Has he himself been told the truth?"
Fenn shook his head.
"From your own knowledge of the young man, do you think that it would be of any use? Even Miss Abbeway is forced to admit that any one less likely to sympathise with our aims it would be impossible to find. At the same time, if we do arrange an interview for you, use any arguments you can think of. To tell you the truth, our whole calculations have been upset by not discovering the packet upon his person. He was on his way to Downing Street when our agents intervened, and we never doubted that he would have it with him. When will it be convenient for you to pay your visit?"
"At any time you send for me," the Bishop replied. "Meanwhile, Mr. Fenn, before I leave I want to remind you once more of the original purpose of my call upon you."
Fenn frowned a little peevishly as he rose to usher his visitor out.
"Miss Abbeway has already extorted a foolish promise from us," he said. "The young man's safety for the present is not in question."
The Bishop, more from custom than from any appetite, walked across the Park to the Athenaeum. Mr. Hannaway Wells accosted him in the hall.
"This is a world of rumours," he remarked with a smile. "I have just heard that Julian Orden, of all men in the world, has been shot as a German spy."
The Bishop smiled with dignity.
"You may take it from me," he said gravely, "that the rumour is untrue."
Nicholas Fenn, although civilisation had laid a heavy hand upon him during the last few years, was certainly not a man whose outward appearance denoted any advance in either culture or taste. His morning clothes, although he had recently abandoned the habit of dealing at a ready-made emporium, were neither well chosen nor well worn. His evening attire was, if possible, worse. He met Catherine that evening in the lobby of what he believed to be a fashionable grillroom, in a swallow-tailed coat, a badly fitting shirt with a single stud-hole, a black tie, a collar which encircled his neck like a clerical band, and ordinary walking boots. She repressed a little shiver as she shook hands and tried to remember that this was not only the man whom several millions of toilers had chosen to be their representative, but also the duly appointed secretary of the most momentous assemblage of human beings in the world's history.
"I hope I am not late," she said. "I really do not care much about dining out, these days, but your message was so insistent."
"One must have relaxation," he declared. "The weight of affairs all day long is a terrible strain. Shall we go in?"
They entered the room and stood looking aimlessly about them, Fenn having, naturally enough, failed to realise the necessity of securing a table. A maitre d'hotel, however, recognised Catherine and hastened to their rescue. She conversed with the man for a few minutes in French, while her companion listened admiringly, and finally, at his solicitation, herself ordered the dinner.
"The news, please, Mr. Fenn?" she asked, as soon as the man had
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