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•That fellow Gortre, that abominable young priest, has been getting in my way to-night," he said with a savage curse. “I found him with Gertrude Hunt, the woman I 've spent thousands on! The priests have got her; she 's going to lead a new life.' She has • found Christ'!"
Schuabe smiled horribly, a cunning smile of unutterable malice.
“He has crossed my path also,” he said; “in some way, by a series of coincidences, he has become slightly involved in our lives. Leave the matter to me. So small a thing as the fanaticism of one obscure youth is nothing to trouble us. I will see to his future. But he shall live to know what is coming to the world. Then -it is easy enough. He thwarted me one night also.”
They were silent for a minute or two. Sir Robert lifted a long glass to his lips. His hand shook with passion, and the ice in the liquid clinked and tinkled.
Everything is now ready," he said at last, glancing at Schuabe. “ Every detail. Ionides knows what he has to do when he receives the signal. He is a mere tool, and knows and cares nothing of what will happen. He is to direct the excavators in certain directions, that is all. It will be three months, so I calculate, after we have set the machinery in motion, before the blow will fall. It rests with you now to begin.”
* The sign shall go at once," said Schuabe. His eyes glittered, his mouth worked with emotion.
“It is a letter with a single sign on it." “What is the sign?"
A drawing of a broken cross.
Before the day dawns we will send the broken cross to Jerusalem."
END OF BOOK I
WHILE LONDON WAS SLEEPING
the winter, two or three weeks before Christmas,
Gortre asked Father Ripon for a ten days' holiday, and went to Walktown to spend the time with Mr. Byars and Helena. Christmas itself could be no time of vacation for him,-the duties of St. Mary's were very heavy, so he snatched a respite from work 'before the actual time of festival.
Harold Spence was left alone in the chambers at Lincoln's Inn. The journalist found himself discontented, lonely, and bored. He had not realised before how much Basil's society had contributed to his happiness during the past few months. It had grown to be a necessity to him gradually, and, as is the case with all gradual processes, the lack of it surprised him with its sense of incompleteness and loss.
He had spent a hard summer and autumn over very uncongenial work. For months there had been a curious lull and calm in the news-world. Yet day by day the Daily Wire had to be filled. Not that there was any lack of material,-even in the dullest season the expert journalist will tell one that his difficulty is what to leave out of his paper, not what to put in,-but that the material was uninteresting and dull.
He felt himself that his leaders were growing rather stale, lacking in spontaneity. His style did not glitter and ring quite as usual. And Basil had helped him through this time wonderfully.
One Wednesday—he remembered the day afterwards -Spence awoke about mid-day. He had been late at the office the night before and afterwards had gone to a club, not going to bed till after four.
He heard the laundress moving about the chambers preparing his breakfast. He shouted to her, and in a minute or two she came in with his letters and a cup of tea. She went to the window and pulled up the blind, letting a dreary grey-yellow December light into the room.
‘Nasty day, Mrs. Buscall," he said, sipping his tea.
"It is so, sir," the woman said, a lean, kindly-faced London drudge from a court in Drury Lane. Gives me a frog in my throat all the time, this fog does. You 'd better let me pour a drop of hot water in your bath, sir. I've got the kettle on the gas stove."
The laundress had an objection to baths, deep-rooted and a matter of principle. The daily cold tub she regarded as suicidal, and when Gortre had arrived, her pained surprise at finding him also-a clergyman too!addicted to such adventurous and injudicious habits had been as extreme as her disappointment.
Spence agreed to humour her, and she began to prepare the bath.
“Letter from Mr. Cyril, I see, sir," she remarked. Mrs. Buscall loved the archæologist with more strenuousness than her other two charges. The unusual and mysterious has a real fascination for a certain type of uneducated Cockney brain. Hands's rare sojourns at the chambers, the Eastern dresses and pictures in his room, his strange and perilous life-as she considered it -in the veritable Bible land, where Satan actually roamed the desert in the form of a lion seeking whom he might devour, all these stimulated her crude imagination and brought colour into the dreary purlieus of Drury Lane.