Another thrilling instalment of this great story of the Secret Service
THE STORY : During the Great War,
Major Richard Hannay undertakes to learn details of a German plot to inflame the Moslems against the British in India and elsewhere. The only clue he is given is a paper bearing the words, “ Kasredin,” “cancer,” and “v. I.,” which a British secret agent in the East brought in but could not explain before he died.
Hannay has two assistants—Sandy Arbuthnot and John S. Blenkiron, the latter a rich and eccentric American. They agree to proceed to Constantinople by different routes. On meeting there, it is hoped that one of them will have learned the secret.
At Lisbon, Hannay meets Peter Pienaar, an old pro-British friend from South Africa; and, under the pretense that they are Boers who want to help Germany, they proceed to the latter country. Hannay now calls himself Cornelius Brandt.
They are met by Colonel von Stumm, a brutal German, and separated. Hannay goes with von Stumm to the latter’s castle, and when von Stumm becomes suspicious of his real purpose, Hannay knocks him unconscious and escapes into a forest.
After many adventures and hairbreadth escapes, he reaches the Danube, upon which a tugboat is pulling a siring of barges. He persuades the captain to take him on as engineer; later Peter Pienaar turns up and also secures a job. They have trouble crossing the Turkish frontier but finally reach Constantinople where they are attacked by a mob of Turks who think they are German spies.
I REMEMBER that, sitting on the edge of my bed, I took stock of our position. It was not very cheering. We seemed to have been amassing enemies at a furious pace. First of all there was Rasta, whom I had insulted and who wouldn’t forget it in a hurry. He had his crowd of Turkish riff-raff and was bound to get us sooner or later. Then there was the maniac in the skin hat. He didn’t like Rasta, and I made a guess that he and his weird friends were of some party hostile to the Young Turks. But, on the other hand, he didn’t like us, and there would be bad trouble the next time we met him. Finally, there was Stumm and the German Government. It could only be a matter of hours at the best before he got the Rustchuk authorities on our trail. It would be easy to trace us from Chataldja, and once they had us we were absolutely done. There was a big black dossier against us, which by no conceivable piece of luck could be upset.
It was very clear to me that, unless we could find sanctuary and shed all our various pursuers during this day, we should be done in for good and all. But where on earth were
we to find sanctuary? We had neither of us a word of the language, and there was no way I could see of taking on new characters. For that we wanted friends and help, and I could think of none anywhere. Somewhere, to be sure, there was Blenkiron, but how could we get in touch with him? As for Sandy, I had pretty well given him up. I always thought his enterprise the craziest of the lot and bound to fail, lie was probably somewhere in Asia Minor, and a month or two later would get to Constantinople and hear in some pothouse the yarn of the two wretched Dutchmen who had disappeared so soon from men’s sight.
That rendezvous at Kuprasso’s was no good. It would have been all right if we had got here unsuspected, and could have gone on quietly frequenting the place till Blenkiron picked us up. But to do that we wanted leisure and secrecy, and here we were with a pack of hounds at our heels. The place was horribly dangerous already. If we showed ourselves there we should be gathered in by Rasta, or by the German military police, or by the madman in the skin cap. It was a stark impossibility to hang about on the off-chance of meeting Blenkiron.
I reflected with some bitterness that this was the 17th day of January, the day of our assignation. I had had high hopes all the way down the Danube of meeting with Blenkiron— for I knew he would be in time—of giving him the information I had had the good fortune to collect, of piecing it together with what he had found out, and of getting the whole story which Sir Walter hungered for. After that, I thought it wouldn’t be hard to get away by Rumania, and to get home through Russia. I had hoped to be back with my battalion in February, having done as good a bit of work as anybody in the war. As it was. it looked as if my information would die with me, unless I could find Blenkiron before the evening.
I talked the thing over with Peter, and he agreed that we were fairly up against it. We decided to go to Kuprasso’s that afternoon, and to trust to luck for the rest. It wouldn’t do to wander about the streets, so we sat tight in our room all morning, and swopped old hunting yarns to keep our minds from the beastly present. We got some food at midday—cold mutton and the same cheese, and finished our whisky. Then I paid the bill, for I didn’t care to stay there another night. About half-past three we went into the street, without the foggiest notion where we would find our next quarters.
It was snowing heavily, which was a piece of luck for us. Poor old Peter had no greatcoat, so we went into a Jew’s shop and bought a ready-made abomination, which looked
as if it might have been meant for a dissenting parson. It was no good saving my money when the future was so black. The snow made the streets deserted, and we turned down the long lane which led to Ratchik ferry and found it perfectly quiet. I do not think we met a soul till we got to Kuprasso’s shop.
We walked straight through the cafe, which was empty, and down the dark passage, till we were stopped by the garden door. I knocked and it swung open. There was the bleak j^ard, now puddled with snow, and a blaze of light from the pavilion at the other end. There was a scraping of fiddles, too, and the sound of human talk. We paid the negro at the door, and passed from the bitter afternoon into a garish saloon.
There were forty or fifty people there, drinking coffee and sirops and filling the air with the fumes of latakia. Most of them were Turks in European clothes and the fez, but there were some German officers and what looked like German civilians—Army Service Corps clerks, probably, and mechanics from the Arsenal. A woman in cheap finery was tinkling at the piano, and there were several shrill females with the officers. Peter and I sat down modestly in the nearest corner, where old Kuprasso saw us and sent us coffee. A girl who looked like a Jewess came over to us and talked French, but I shook my head and she went ofl again.
Presently a girl came on the stage and danced, a silly affair, all a clashing of tambourines and wriggling. I have seen native women do the same thing better in a Mozambique kraal. Another sang a German song, a simple, sentimental thing about golden hair and rainbows, and the Germans present applauded. The place was so tinselly and common that, coming to it from weeks of rough travelling, it made me impatient. I forgot that, while for the others it might be a vulgar little dancing-hall, for us it was as perilous as a brigands’ den.
Peter did not share my mood. He was quite interested in it, as he was interested in everything new. He had a genius for living in the moment.
I remember there was a drop-scene on which was daubed a blue lake with very green hills in the distance. As the tobacco smoke grew thicker and the fiddles went on squealing, this tawdry picture began to mesmerize me. I seemed to be looking out of a window at a lovely summer landscape where there were no wars or dangers. I seemed to feel the warm sun and to smell the fragrance of blossom from the islands. And then I became aware that a queer scent had stolen into the atmosphere.
There were braziers burning at both ends to warm the room, and the thin smoke from these smelt like incense. Somebody had been putting powder in the flames, lor suddenly the place became very quiet. The fiddles still sounded,
but far away like an echo.
The lights went down, all but a circle on the stage, and into that circle stepped my enemy of the skin cap.
He had three others with him. I heard a whisper behind me, and the words were those which Kuprasso had used the day before. These bedlamites were called the Companions of the Rosy Hours and Kuprasso had promised great dancing.
I hoped to goodness they would not see us, for they had fairly given me the horrors. Peter felt the same, and we both made ourselves very small in that dark corner. But the newcomers had no eyes for us.
In a twinkling the pavilion changed from a common saloon, which might have been in Chicago or Paris, to a place of mystery—yes, and of beauty. It became the gardenhouse of Suliman the Red, whoever that sportsman may have been. Sandy had said that the ends of the earth converged there, and he had been right. I lost all consciousness of my neighbors—stout German, frock-coated Turk, frowsy Jewess—and saw only strange figures leaping in a circle of light, figures that came out of the deepest darkness to make big magic.
The leader flung some stuff into the brazier and a great fan of blue light flared up. He was weaving circles, and he was singing something shrill and high, while his companions made a chorus with their deep monotone. I can’t tell you what the dance was. I had seen the Russian ballet just before the war, and one of the men in it reminded me of this man. But the dancing was the least part of it. It was neither sound nor movement nor scent that wrought the spell, but something far more potent. In an instant I found myself reft away from the present with its dull dangers, and looking at a world all young and fresh and beautiful. The gaudy drop-scene had vanished. It was a window I was looking from, and I was gazing at the finest landscape on earth, lit by the pure clean light of morning.
It seemed to be part of the veld, but like no veld I had ever seen. It was wider and wilder and more gracious. Indeed, I was looking at my first youth. I was feeling the kind of immortal light-heartedness which only a boy knows in the dawning of his days. I had no longer any fear of these magic-makers. They were kindly wizards, who had brought me into fairyland.
Then slowly from the silence there distilled drops of music. They came like water falling a long way into a cup, each the essential quality of pure sound. W e, with our elaborate harmonies, have forgotten the charm of single notes. The African natives know it, and I remember a learned man once telling me that the Greeks had the same
art. Those silver bells broke out of infinite space, so exquisite and perfect that no mortal words could have been fitted to them. That was the music, I expect, that the morning stars made when they sang together.
Slowly, very slowly, it changed. The glow passed from blue to purple, and then to an angry red. Bit by bit the notes spun together till they had made a harmony—a fierce, restless harmony. And I was conscious again of the skin-clad dancers beckoning out of their circle.
There was no mistake about the meaning now. All the daintiness and youth had fled, and passion was beating in the air—terrible, savage passion, which belonged neither to day nor night, life nor death, but to the half-world between them. I suddenly felt the dancers as monstrous, inhuman, devilish. The thick scents that floated from the brazier seemed to have a tang of new-shed blood. Cries broke from the hearers—cries of anger and lust and terror. I heard a woman sob, and Peter, who is as tough as any mortal, took tight hold of my arm.
I now realized that these Companions of the Rosy Hours were the only thing in the world to fear. Rasta and Stumm seemed feeble simpletons by contrast. The window I had been looking out of was changed to a prison wall—I could see the mortar between the massive blocks. In a second these devils would be smelling out their enemies like some foul witch-doctors. I felt the burning eyes of their leader looking for me in tire gloom. Peter was praying audibly beside me, and I could have choked him. His infernal chatter would reveal us, for it seemed to me that there was no one in the place except us and the magic-workers.
THEN suddenly the spell was broken. The door was flung open and a great gust of icy wind swirled through the hall, driving clouds of ashes from the braziers. I heard loud voices without, and a hubbub began inside. For a moment it was quite dark, and then someone lit one of the flare lamps by the stage. It revealed nothing but the common squalor of a low saloon—white faces, sleepy eyes, and frowsy heads. The drop-scene was there in all its tawdriness.
The Companions of the Rosy Hours had gone. But at the door stood men in uniform. I heard a German a long way off
murmur, “Enver’s bodyguards,” and I heard him distinctly; for, though I could not see clearly, my hearing was desperately acute. That is often the way when you suddenly come out of a swoon.
The place emptied like magic. Turk and German tumbled over each other, while Kuprasso wailed and wept. No one seemed to stop them, and then I saw the reason. Those guards had come for us. This must be Stumm at last. The authorities had tracked us down, and it was all up with Peter and me.
A sudden revulsion leaves a man with low vitality. I didn’t seem to care greatly. We were done, and there was an end of it. It was Kismet, the act of God, and there was nothing for it but to submit. I hadn’t a flicker of a thought of escape or resistance. The game was utterly and absolutely over.
A man who seemed to be a sergeant pointed to us and said something to Kuprasso, who nodded. We got heavily to our feet and stumbled toward them. With one on each side of us we crossed the yard, walked through the dark passage and the empty shop, and out into the snowy street. There was a closed carriage waiting which they motioned us to get into. It looked exactly like the Black Maria.
Both of us sat still, like truant schoolboys, with our hands on our knees. I didn’t know where I was going and 1 didn’t care. We seemed to be rumbling up the hill, and then I caught the glare of lighted streets.
“This is the end of it, Peter,” I said.
“Ja, Cornelis,” he replied, and that was all our talk.
By and by—hours later it seemed—we stopped. Someone opened the door and we got out, to lind ourselves in a courtyard with a huge dark building around. The prison, 1 guessed, and I wondered if they would give us blankets, for it was perishing cold.
We entered a door, and found ourselves in a big stone hall. It was quite warm, which made me more hopeful about our cells. A man in some kind of uniform pointed to the staircase, up which we plodded wearily. My mind was too blank to take clear impressions, or in any way to forecast the future. Another warder met us and took us down a passage till we halted at a door. He stood aside and motioned us to enter.
I guessed that this was the governor’s room, and we should be put through our first examination. My head was too
stupid to think, and I made up my mind to keep perfectly mum. Yes, even if they tried thumbscrews. I had no kind of a story, but I resolved not to give anything away. As I turned the handle I wondered idly what kind of sallow Turk or bulging-necked German we should find inside.
It was a pleasant room, with a polished wood floor and a big fire burning on the hearth. Beside the fire a man lay on a couch with a little table drawn up beside him. On that table was a small glass of milk and a number of Patience cards spread in rows.
I stared blankly at the spectacle, till I saw a second figure. It was the man in the skin-cap, the leader of the dancing maniacs. Both Peter and I backed sharply at the sight and then stood stock still.
For the dancer crossed the room in two strides and gripped both of my hands.
"Dick, old man.” he cried, ‘Tm most awfully glad to see you again !”
A SPASM of incredulity, a vast relief, and that sharp •*joy which comes of reaction chased each other across my mind. I had come suddenly out of very black waters into an unbelievable calm. I dropped into the nearest chair and tried to grapple with something far beyond words.
“Sandy,” I said, as soon as I got my breath, “you’re an incarnate devil. You’ve given Peter and me the fright of our lives.”
“It was the only way, Dick. If I hadn’t come mewing like a tom-cat at your heels yesterday, Rasta would have had you long before you got to your hotel. You two have given me a pretty anxious time, and it took some doing to get you safe here. However, that is all over now. Make yourselves at home, my children.”
“Over!” I cried incredulously, for my wits were still woolgathering. “What place is this?”
“You may call it my humble home”—it was Blenkiron’s sleek voice that spoke. “We’ve been preparing for you, Major, but it was only yesterday 1 heard of your friend.”
I introduced Peter.
“Mr. Pienaar,” said Blenkiron, “pleased to meet you. Well, as I was observing, you’re safe enough here, but you’ve cut it mighty fine. Officially, a Dutchman called Brandt was to be arrested this afternoon and handed over to the German authorities. When Germany begins to trouble about that Dutchman she will find difficulty in getting the body; but such are the languid ways of an Oriental despotism. Meantime the Dutchman will be no more. He will have ceased upon the midnight without pain, as your poet sings.”
"But I don’t understand,” I stammered. “Who arrested us?”
“My men,” said Sandy. “We have a bit of a graft here, and it wasn’t difficult to manage it. Old Moellendorff will be nosing after the business tomorrow, but he will find the mystery too deep for him. That is the advantage of a Government run by a pack of adventurers. But, by Jove, Dick,'we hadn’t any time to spare. If Rastas had got you, or the Germans had had the job of lifting you, your goose would have been jolly well cooked. I had some unquiet hours this morning.”
The thing was too deep for me. I looked at Blenkiron shuffling his Patience cards with his old sleepy smile, and Sandy, dressed like some bandit in melodrama, his lean face as brown as a nut, his bare arms all tattooed with crimson rings, and the fox pelt drawn tight over brow and ears. It was still a nightmare world, but the dream was getting pleasanter. Peter said not a word, but I could see his eyes heavy with his own thoughts.
Blenkiron heaved himself from the sofa and waddled to a cupboard.
“You boys must be hungry,” he said. “My duodenum has been giving me hell as usual, and I don’t eat no more than a squirrel. But I laid in some stores, for I guessed you would want to stoke up some after your travels.”
He brought out a couple of Strassburg pies, a cheese, a cold chicken, a loaf and three bottles of champagne.
“Fizz,” said Sandy rapturously. “And a dry Heidsieck, too! We’re in luck, Dick, old man.” I never ate a more welcome meal, for we had starved in that dirty hotel. But I had still the old feeling of the hunted, and before I began I asked about the door.
“That’s all right,” said Sandy. “My fellows are on the stair and at the gate. If the Mdreb are in possession, you may bet that other people will keep off. Your past is blotted out, clean vanished away, and you begin tomorrow morning with a new sheet. Blenkiron’s the man you’ve got to thank for that. He was pretty certain you’d get here, but he was also certain that you’d arrive in a hurry with a good many enquiries behind you. So he arranged that you should leak away and start fresh.”
“Your name is Richard Hanau,” Blenkiron said, “born in Cleveland, Ohio, of German parentage on both sides. One of our brightest mining engineers, and the apple of Guggenheim’s eye. You arrived this afternoon from Constanza, and I met you at the packet. The clothes for the part are in your bedroom next door. But I guess all that can wait, for I’m anxious to get to business. We’re not here on a joyride, Major, so I reckon we’ll leave out the dime-novel adventures. I’m just dying to hear them, but they’ll keep.”
He gave Peter and me cigars, and we sat ourselves in armchairs in front of the blaze. Sandy squatted crosslegged on the hearthrug and lit a foul old briar pipe, which he extricated from some pouch among his skins. And so began that conversation which had never been out of my thoughts for four really hectic weeks.
“If I presume to begin,” said Blenkiron, “it’s because I reckon my story is the shortest. I have to confess to you, gentlemen, that I have failed.”
He drew down the comers of his mouth till he looked a cross between a music hall comedian and a sick child.
“If you were looking for something in the root of the hedge, you wouldn’t want to scour the road in a high-speed automobile. And still less would you want to get a bird’seye view in an airplane. That parable about lits my case. I have been in the clouds and I’ve been scorching on the pikes, but what I was wanting was in the ditch all the time, and I naturally missed it ... I had the wrong stunt. Major. I was too high up and refined. I’ve been processing through Europe like Barnum’s Circus, and living with generals and transparencies. Not that I haven’t picked up a lot of noos, and got some very interesting sidelights on high politics. But the thing I was after wasn’t to be found on my beat, for those that knew it weren’t going to tell. In that kind of society they don’t get drunk and blab after their tenth cocktail. So I guess 1 ’ve no contribution to make to quieting Sir Walter Bullivant’s mind, except that lie’s dead right. Yes, sir,, he has hit the spot and rung the bell. There is a mighty miracle-working proposition being floated in these parts, but the promoters are keeping it to themselves. They aren’t taking in more than they can help on the ground floor.”
Blenkiron stopped to light a fresh cigar. He was leaner than when he left London and there were pouches below his eyes. I fancy his journey had not been as fur-lined as he made out.
“I’ve found out one thing, and that is, that the last dream Germany will part with is the control of the Near East. That is what your statesmen don’t figure enough on. She’ll give up Belgium and Alsace-Lorraine and Poland, but she’ll never give up the road to Mesopotamia till you have her by the throat and make her drop it. Sir Walter is a pretty bright-eyed citizen, and. he sees it right enough. If the worst happens, Kaiser will fling overboard a lot of ballast in Europe, and it will look like a big victory for the Allies, but he won’t be beaten if he has the road to the East safe. Germany’s like a scorpion: her sting’s in her tail, and that tail stretches way down into Asia.
“I got that dear, and I also made out that it wasn’t going to be dead easy for her to keep that tail healthy. Turkey’s a bit of an anxiety, as you’ll soon discover. But Germany thinks she can manage it, and I won’t say she can’t. It depends on the hand she holds, and she reckons it a good one. I tried to find out, but they gave me nothing but eyewash. I had to pretend to be satisfied, for the position of John S. wasn’t so strong as to allow him to take liberties. If I asked one of the highbrows, he looked wise and spoke of the might of German arms and German organization and German staff-work. I used to nod my head and get enthusiastic about these stunts, but it was all soft soap. She has a trick in hand—that much I know, but I’m darned if I can put a name to it. I pray to God you boys have been cleverer.”
His tone was quite melancholy, and I was mean enough to feel rather glad. He had been the professional with the best chance. It would be a good joke if the amateur succeeded where the expert failed.
I looked at Sandy. He filled his pipe again, and pushed back his skin cap from his brows. What with his long dishevelled hair, his highboned face, and stained eyebrows he had the appearance of some mad mullah.
“I went straight to Smyrna,” he said. “It wasn’t difficult, for you see I had laid down a good many lines in former travels. I reached the town as a Greek moneylender from the Fayum, but I had friends there I could count on, and the same evening I was a Turkish gipsy, a member of the most famous fraternity in Western Asia. I had long been a member, and I’m blood-brother of the chief boss, so 1 stepped into the part ready made. But I found out that the Company of the Rosy Hours was not what I had known it in 1910. Then it had been all for the Young Turks and reform; now it hankered after
the old regime and was the last hope of the Orthodox. It had no use for Enver and his friends, and it did not regard with pleasure the beaux'yeux of the Teuton. It stood for Islam and the old ways, and might be described as a Conservative-Nationalist caucus. But it was uncommon powerful in the provinces, and Enver and Talaat daren’t meddle with it. The dangerous thing about it was that it said nothing and apparently did nothing. It just bided its time and took notes.
“You can imagine that this was the very kind of crowd for my purpose. I knew of old its little ways, for with all its orthodoxy it dabbled a good deal in magic, and owed half its power to its atmosphere of the uncanny. The Companions could dance the heart out of the ordinary Turk. You saw a bit of one of our dances this afternoon, Dick—pretty good, wasn’t it? They could go anywhere, and no questions asked. They knew what the ordinary man was thinking, for they were the best intelligence department in the Ottoman Empire—far better than Enver’s Khafiyeh. And they were popular, too, for they had never bowed the knee to the Nemseh—the Germans who are squeezing out the life-blood of the Osmanli for their own ends. It would have been as much as the life of the Committee or its German masters was worth to lay a hand on us, for we clung together like leeches and we were not *n the habit of sticking at trifles.
“Well, you may imagine it wasn’t difficult for me to move where I wanted. My dress and the password franked me anywhere. I travelled from Smyrna by the new railway to Panderma on the Marmora, and got there just before Christmas. That was after Anzac and Suvla had been evacuated, but I could hear the guns going hard at Cape Helles. From Panderma I started to cross to Thrace in a coasting steamer. And there an uncommon funny thing happened—I got torpedoed.
“It must have been about the last effort of a British submarine in those waters. But she got us all right. She gave us ten minutes to take to the boats, and then sent the blighted old packet and a fine cargo of 6-inch shells to the bottom. There weren’t many passengers, so it was easy enough to get ashore in the ship’s boats. The submarine sat on the surface watching us, as we wailed and howled in the true Oriental way, and I saw the captain quite close in the conningtower. Who do you think it was? Tommy Elliot, who lives on the other side of the hill from me at home.
“I gave Tommy the surprise of his life. As we bumped past him, I started the ‘Flowers of the Forest’—the old version—on the antique stringed instrument I carried, and I sang the words very plain. Tommy’s eyes bulged out of his head, and he shouted at me in English to know who the devil I was. I replied in the broadest Scots, which no man in the submarine or in our boat could have understood a word of. ‘Maister Tammay,’ I cried, ‘what for wad ye skail a dacent tinkler lad intil a cauld sea? I’ll gie ye your kail through the reek for this ploy the next time I forgaither wi’ ye on the tap o’ Caerdon.’
“Tommy spotted me in a second. He laughed till he cried, and as we moved off shouted to me in the same language to ‘pit a stoot hert tae a stey brae.’ I hope to Heaven he had the sense not to tell my father, or the old man will have had a fit. He never much approved of my wanderings, and thought I was safely anchored ia the battalion.
“Well, to make a long story short, I got to Constantinople, and pretty soon found touch with Blenkiron. The rest you know . . . And now for business. I have been fairly lucky—but no more, for I haven’t got to the bottom of the thing nor anything like it. But I’ve solved the first of Harry Bullivant’s riddles. I know the meaning of Kasrediu.”
“Sir Walter was right, as Blenkiron has told us. There’s a great stirring in Islam, something moving on the face ot the waters. They make no secret of it. Those religious revivals come in cycles, and one was due about now. And they are quite clear about
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the details. A seer has arisen of the blood of the Prophet, and will restore the Khalifate to its old glories and Islam to its old purity. His sayings are everywhere in the Moslem world. All the orthodox believers have them by heart. That is why they are enduring grinding poverty and preposterous taxation, and that is why their young men are rolling up to the armies and dying without complaint in Gallipoli and Transcaucasia. They believe they are on the eve of a great deliverance.
“Now the first thing I found out was that the Young Turks had nothing to do with this. They are unpopular and unorthodox and no true Turks. But Germany has. Flow, I don’t know, but I could see quite plainly that in some subtle way Germany was regarded as a collaborator in the movement. It is that belief that is keeping the present regime going. The ordinary Turk loathes the Committee, but he has some queer perverted expêctation from Germany. It is not a case of Enver and the rest carrying on their shoulders the impopular Teuton; it is a case of the Teuton carrying the unpopular Committee. And Germany’s graft is just this and nothing more—that she has some hand in the coming of the new deliverer.
“They talk about the thing quite openly. It is called the Kaaba-i-hurriyeh, the Palladium of Liberty. The prophet himself is known as Zimrud—‘the Emerald’—and his four ministers are called also after jewels— —Sapphire, Ruby, Pearl and Topaz. You will hear their names as often in the talk of the towns and villages as you will hear the names of generals in England. But no one knew where Zimrud was or when he would reveal himself, though every week came his messages to the faithful. All that I could learn was that he and his followers were coming from the West.
“You will say, what about Kasredin? That puzzled me dreadfully, for no one used
the phrase. The Home of the Spirit ! It is an obvious cliché, just as in England some new sect might call itself the Church of Christ. Only no one seemed to use it.
“But by and by I discovered that there was an inner and an outer circle in this mystery. Every creed has an esoteric side which is kept from the common herd. I struck this side in Constantinople. Now there is a very famous Turkish shaka called Kasredin, one of those old half-comic miracle-plays with an allegorical meaning which they call orta oyun, and which take a week to read. That tale tells of the coming of a prophet, and I found that the select of the faith spoke of the new revelation in terms of it. The curious thing is that in that tale the prophet is aided by one of the few women who play much part in the hagiology of Islam. That is the point of the tale, and it is partly a jest, but mainly a religious mystery. The prophet, too, is not called Emerald.”
“I know,” I said; “he is called Greenmantle.”
Sandy scrambled to his feet, letting his pipe drop in the fireplace.
“Now how on earth did you find out that?” he cried.
Then I told them of Stumm and Gaudian and the whispered words I had not been meant to hear. Blenkiron was giving me the benefit of a steady stare, unusual from one who seemed always to have his eyes abstracted, and Sandy had taken to ranging up and down the room.
“Germany’s in the heart of the plan. That is what I always thought. If we’re to find the Kaaba-i-hurriyeh it is no good fossicking among the Committee or in the Turkish provinces. The secret’s in Germany. Dick, you should not have crossed the Danube.”
“That’s what I half-feared,” I said. “But on the other hand it is obvious that the
thing must come east, and sooner rather than later. I take it they can’t afford to delay too long before they deliver the goods. If we can stick it out here we must hit the trail . . . I’ve got another bit of evidence.
I have solved Harry Bullivant’s third puzzle.”
Sandy’s eyes were very bright and I had an audience on wires.
“Did you say that in the tale of Kasredin a woman is the ally of the prophet?”
“Yes,” said Sandy; “what of that?”
“Only that the same thing is true of Greenmantle. I can give you her name.”
I fetched a piece of paper and a pencil from Blenkiron’s desk and handed it to Sandy.
“Write down Harry Bullivant’s third word.”
“He promptly wrote down “v. I.”
Then I told them of the other name Stumm and Gaudian had spoken. I told of my discovery as I lay in the woodman’s cottage.
“The ‘7’ is not the letter of the alphabet, but the numeral. The name is Von Einem— Hilda von Einem.”
“Good old Harry,” said Sandy softly. “He was a dashed clever chap. Hilda von Einem ! Who and where is she? For if we find her we have done the trick.”
Then Blenkiron spoke. “I reckon I can put you wise on that, gentlemen,” he said. “I saw her no later than yesterday. She is a lovely lady. She happens also to be the owner of this house.”
Both Sandy and I began to laugh. It was too comic to have stumbled across Europe and lighted on the very headquarters of the puzzle we had set out to unriddle.
But Blenkiron did not laugh. At the mention of Hilda von Einem he had suddenly become very solemn, and the sight of his face pulled me up short.
“I don’t like it, gentlemen,” he said. “I would rather you had mentioned any other name on God’s earth. I haven’t been long in this city, but I have been long enough to size up the various political bosses. They haven’t much to them. I reckon they wouldn’t stand up against what we could show them in the United States. But I have met the Frau von Einem, and that lady’s a very different proposition. The man that will understand her has got to take a biggish size in hats.”
“Who is she?” I asked.
“Why, that is just what I can’t tell you. She was a great excavator of Babylonish and Hittite ruins, and she married a diplomat who went to glory three years back. It isn’t what she has been, but what she is, and that’s a mighty clever woman.”
Blenkiron’s respect did not depress me. I felt as if at last we had got our job narrowed to a decent compass, for I had hated casting about in the dark. I asked where she lived.
“That I don’t know,” said Blenkiron. “You won’t find people unduly anxious to gratify your natural curiosity about Frau von Einem.”
“I can find that out,” said Sandy. “That’s the advantage of having a push like mine. Meantime, I’ve got to clear, for my day’s work isn’t finished. Dick, you and Peter must go to bed at once.”
“Why?” I asked in amazement. Sandy spoke like a medical adviser.
“Because I want your clothes—the things you’ve got on now. I’ll take them off with me and you’ll never see them again.”
“You’ve a queer taste in souvenirs,” I said.
“Say rather the Turkish police. The current in the Bosporus is pretty strong, and these sad relics of two misguided Dutchmen will be washed up tomorrow about Seraglio Point. In this game you must drop the curtain neat and pat at the end of each scene, if you don’t want trouble later with the missing heir and the family lawyer.” '
I WALKED out of that house next morning with Blenkiron’s arm in mine, a different being from the friendless creature who had looked vainly the day before for sanctuary. To begin with, I was splendidly dressed. I had a navy-blue suit with square padded shoulders, a neat black bow-tie, shoes with
a hump at the toe, and a brown bowler. Over that I wore a greatcoat lined with wolf fur. I had a smart malacca cane, and one of Blenkiron’s cigars in my mouth. Peter had been made to trim his beard, and, dressed in unassuming pepper-and-salt, looked with his docile eyes and quiet voice a very respectable servant. Old Blenkiron had done the job in style, for, if you’ll believe it, he had brought the clothes all the way from London. I realized now why he and Sandy had been fossicking in my wardrobe. Peter’s suit had been of Sandy’s procuring, and it was not the fit of mine. I had no difficulty about the accent. Any man brought up in the colonies can get his tongue round American, and I flattered myself I made a very fair shape at the lingo of the Middle West.
The wind had gone to the south and the snow was melting fast. There was a blue sky above Asia, and away to the north masses of white cloud drifting over the Black Sea. What had seemed the day before the dingiest of cities now took on a strange beauty, the beauty of unexpected horizons and tongues of grey water winding below cypress-studded shores. A man’s temper has a lot to do with his appreciation of scenery. I felt a free man once more, and could use my eyes.
That street was a jumble of every nationality on earth. There were Turkish regulars in their queer conical khaki helmets, and wild-looking levies who had no kin with Europe. There were squads of Germans in fiat forage-caps, staring vacantly at novel sights, and quick to salute an officer on the sidewalk. Turks in closed carriages passed, and Turks on good Arab horses, and Turks who looked as if they had come out of the Ark. But it was the rabble that caught the eye—a very wild, pinched, miserable rabble. I never in my life saw such swarms of beggars, and you walked down that street to the accompaniment of entreaties for alms in all the tongues of the Tower of Babel. Blenkiron and I behaved as if we were interested tourists. We would stop and laugh at one fellow and give a penny to a second, passing comments in high-pitched Western voices.
We went into a café and had a cup of coffee. A beggar came in and asked alms. Hitherto Blenkiron’s purse had been closed, but now he took out some small nickels and planked five down on the table. The man cried down blessings and picked up three. Blenkiron very swiftly swept the other two into his pocket.
That seemed to me queer, and I remarked that I had never before seen a beggar who gave change. Blenkiron said nothing, and presently we moved on and came to the harbor-side.
There were a number of small tugs moored alongside, and one or two bigger craft— fruit boats, I judged, which used to ply in the Aegean. They looked pretty well motheaten from disuse. We stopped at one of them and watched a fellow in a blue nightcap splicing ropes. He raised his eyes once and looked at us, and then kept on with his business.
Blenkiron asked him where he came from but he shook his head, not understanding the tongue. A Turkish policeman came up and stared at us suspiciously, till Blenkiron opened his coat, as if by accident, and displayed a tiny square of ribbon, at which he saluted. Failing to make conversation with the sailor, Blenkiron flung him three of his black cigars. “I guess you can smoke, friend, if you can’t talk,” he said.
The man grinned and caught the three neatly in the air. Then to my amazement he tossed one of them back.
The donor regarded it quizzically as it lay on the pavement. “That boy’s a connoisseur of tobacco,” he said. As we moved away I saw the Turkish policeman pick it up and put it inside his cap.
We returned by the long street on the crest of the hill. There was a man selling oranges on a tray, and Blenkiron stopped to look at them. I noticed that the man shuffled fifteen into a cluster. Blenkiron felt the oranges, as if to see that they were sound, and pushed two aside. The man instantly restored them to the group, never raising his eyes.
Continued on page 42
Continued from page 39
“This ain’t the time of year to buy fruit,” said Blenkiron as we passed on. “Those oranges are rotten as medlars.”
We were almost on our own doorstep before I guessed the meaning of the business.
“Is your morning’s work finished?” I said.
“Our morning’s walk?” he asked innocently.
“I said ‘work.’ ”
He smiled blandly. “I reckoned you’d tumble to it. Why, yes, except that I’ve some figuring still to do. Give me half an hour and I’ll be at your service, Major.” That afternoon, after Peter had cooked a wonderfully good luncheon, I had a heart-toheart talk with Blenkiron.
“My business is to get noos,” he said; “and before I start in on a stunt I make considerable preparations. All the time in London when I was yelping at the British Government, I was busy with Sir Walter arranging things ahead. We used to meet in queer places and at all hours of the night. I fixed up a lot of connections in this city before I arrived, and especially a noos service with your Foreign Office by way of Rumania and Russia. In a day or two I guess our friends will know all about our discoveries.”
At that I opened my eyes very wide. “Why, yes. You Britishers haven’t any notion how wide-awake your Intelligence Service is. I reckon it’s easily the best of all the belligerents. You never talked about it in peace time, and you shunned the theatrical ways of the Teuton. But you had the wires laid good and sure. I calculate there isn’t much that happens in any corner of the earth that you don’t know within twentyfour hours. I don’t say your highbrows use the noos well. I don’t take much stock in your political push. They’re a lot of silvertongues, no doubt, but it ain’t oratory that is wanted in this racket. The William Jennings Bryan stunt languishes in war-time. Politics is like a chicken-coop, and those inside get to behave as if their little run were all the world. But if the politicians make mistakes it isn’t from lack of good instruction to guide their steps. If I had a big proposition to handle and could have my pick of helpers I’d plump for the Intelligence Department of the British Admiralty. Yes, sir, I take off my hat to your Government sleuths.”
“Did they provide you with ready-made spies here?” I asked in astonishment.
“Why, no,” he said. “But they gave me the key, and I could make my own arrangements. In Germany I buried myself deep in the local atmosphere and never peeped out. That was my game, for I was looking for something in Germany itself, and didn’t want any foreign cross-bearings. As you know, I failed where you succeeded. But so soon as I crossed the Danube I set about opening up my lines of communication, and I hadn’t been two days in this metropolis before I had got my telephone exchange buzzing. Sometime I’ll explain the thing to you, for it’s a pretty little business. I’ve got the cutest cypher . . . No, it ain’t my invention. It’s your Government’s. Anyone, babe, imbecile or dotard, can carry my messages—you saw some of them today— but it takes some mind to set the piece, and it takes a lot of figuring at my end to work out the results. Some day you shall hear it all, for I guess it would please you.”
“Plow do you use it?” I asked.
“Well, I get early noos of what is going on in this cabbage-patch. Likewise I get authentic noos of the rest of Europe, and I can send a message to Mr. X. in Petrograd and Mr. Y. in London, or, if I wish, to Mr. Z. in Noo York. What’s the matter with that for a post office? I’m the best informed man in Constantinople, for old General Liman only hears one side, and mostly lies at that, and Enver prefers not to listen at all. Also, I could give them points on what is happening at their very' door, for our friend Sandy is a big boss in the best-run crowd of mountebanks that ever fiddled secrets out of men’s hearts. Without their help I wouldn’t have cut much ice in this city.”
“I want you to tell me one thing, Blenkiron,” I said. “I’ve been playing a part for
the past month, and it wears my nerves to tatters. Is this job very tiring, for if it is, I doubt I may buckle up.”
He looked thoughtful. “I can’t call our business an absolute rest-cure any time. You’ve got to keep your eyes skinned, and there’s always the risk of the little packet of dynamite going off unexpected. But as these things go, I rate this stunt as easy. We’ve only got to be natural. We wear our natural clothes, and talk English, and sport a Teddy Roosevelt smile, and there isn’t any call for theatrical talent. Where I’ve found the job tight was when I had got to be natural, and my naturalness was the same brand as that of everybody round about, and all the time I had to do unnatural things. It isn’t easy to be going down town to business and taking cocktails with Mr. Carl Rosenheim, and next hour being engaged trying to blow Mr. Rosenheim’s friends sky high. And it isn’t easy to keep up a part which is clean outside your ordinary life. I’ve never tried that. My line has always been to keep my normal personality. But you have, Major, and I guess you found it wearing.”
“Wearing’s a mild word,” I said. “But I want to know another thing. It seems to me that the line you’ve picked is as good as could be. But it’s a cast-iron line. It commits us pretty deep and it won’t be a simple job to drop it.”
“Why, that’s just the point I was coming to,” he said. “I was going to put you wise about that very thing. When I started out I figured on some situation like this. I argued that unless I had a very clear part with a big bluff in it I wouldn’t get the confidences which I needed. We’ve got to be at the heart of the show, taking a real hand and not just looking on. So I settled I would be a big engineer—there was a time when there weren’t many bigger in the United States than John S. Blenkiron. I talked large about what might be done in Mesopotamia in the way of washing the British down the river. Well, that talk caught on. They knew of my reputation as a hydraulic expert, and they were tickled to death to rope me in. I told them I wanted a helper, and I told them about my friend Richard Hanau, as good a German as ever supped sauerkraut, who was coming through Russia and Rumania as a benevolent neutral; but when he got to Constantinople would drop his neutrality and double his benevolence. They got reports on you by wire from the States—I arranged that before I left London. So you’re going to be welcomed and taken to their bosoms just like John S. was. We’ve both got jobs we can hold down, and now you’re in these pretty clothes you’re the dead ringer of the brightest kind of American engineer . . . But we can’t go back on our tracks. If we wanted to leave for Constanza next week they’d be very polite, but they’d never let us. We’ve got to go on with this adventure and nose our way down into Mesopotamia, hoping that our luck will hold . . . God knows how we will get out of it; but it’s no good going out to meet trouble. As I observed before, I believe in an all-wise and beneficent Providence, but you’ve got to give Him a chance.”
I am bound to confess the prospect staggered me. We might be let in for fighting— and worse than fighting—against our own side. I wondered if it wouldn’t be better to make a bolt for it, and said so.
He shook his head. “I reckon not. In the first place we haven’t finished our enquiries. We’ve got Greenmantle located right enough, thanks to you, but we still know mighty little about that holy man. In the second place it won’t be as bad as you think. This show lacks cohesion, sir. It is not going to last for ever. I calculate that before you and I strike the site of the garden that Adam and Eve frequented there will be a queer turn of affairs. Anyhow, it’s good enough to gamble on.”
Then he got some sheets of paper and drew me a plan of the dispositions of the Turkish forces. I had no notion he was such a close student of war, for his exposition was as good as a staff lecture. He made out that the situation was none too bright anywhere. The troops released from Gallipoli wanted a lot of refitment, and would be slow in reach-
ing the Transcaucasian frontier, where the Russians were threatening. The Army of Syria was pretty nearly'a rabble under the lunatic Djemal. There wasn’t the foggiest chance of a serious invasion of Egypt being undertaken. Only in Mesopotamia did things look fairly cheerful, owing to the blunders of British strategy. “And you may take it from me,” he said, “that if the old Turk mobilized a total of a million men, he has lost forty per cent of them already. And if I'm anything of a prophet he’s going pretty soon to lose more.”
He tore up the papers and enlarged on politics. “I reckon I’ve got the measure of the Young Turks and their precious Committee. Those boys aren’t any good. Enver’s bright enough, and for sure he’s got sand. He’ll stick out a fight like a Vermont gamechicken, but he lacks the larger vision, sir. He doesn’t understand the intricacies of the job no more than a sucking-child, so the Germans play with him, till his temper goes and he bucks like a mule. Talaat is a sulky dog who wants to batter mankind with a club. Both these boys would have made good cow-punchers in the old days, and they might have got a living out West as the gun-men of a Labor Union. They’re about the class of Jesse James or Bill the Kid, excepting that they’re college-reared and can patter languages. But they haven’t the organizing power to manage the Irish vote in a ward election. Their one notion is to get busy with their firearms, and people are getting tired of the Black Hand stunt. Their hold on the country is just the hold that a man with a Browning has over a crowd with walking-sticks. The cooler heads in the Committee are growing shy of them and an old fox like Djavid is lying low till his time comes. Now it doesn’t want arguing that a gang of that kind has got to hang close together or they may hang separately. They’ve got no grip on the ordinary Turk, barring the fact that they are active and he is sleepy, and that they’ve got their guns loaded.”
“What about the Germans here?” I asked.
Blenkiron laughed. “It is no sort of a happy family. But the Young Turks know that without the German boost they’ll be strung up like Haman, and the Germans can’t afford to neglect any ally. Consider what would happen if Turkey got sick of the game and made a separate peace. The road would be open for Russia to the Aegean. Ferdy of Bulgaria would take his depreciated goods to the other market, and not waste a day thinking about it. You’d have Rumania coming in on the Allies’ side. Things would look pretty black for that control of the Near East on which Germany has banked her winnings. Kaiser says that’s got to be prevented at all costs, but how is it going to be done?”
Blenkiron’s face had become very solemn again. “It won’t be done unless Germany’s got a trump card to play. Her game’s mighty near bust, but it’s still got a chance. And that chance is a woman and an old man.
I. reckon our landlady has a bigger brain than Enver and Liman. She’s the real boss of the show. When I came here I reported to her, and presently you’ve got to do the same.
I am curious as to how she’ll strike you, for I’m free to admit that she impressed me considerable.”
“It looks as if our job were a long way from the end,” I said.
“It’s scarcely begun,” said Blenkiron.
npHAT TALK did a lot to cheer my spirits, for I realized that it was the biggest of big game we were hunting this time. I’m an economical soul, and if I’m going to be hanged I want a good stake for my neck.
Then began some varied experiences. I used to wake up in the morning, wondering where I should be at night, and yet quite pleased at the uncertainty. Greenmantle became a sort of myth with me. Somehow I couldn’t fix any idea in my head of what he was like. The nearest I got was a picture of an old man in a turban coming out of a bottle in a cloud of smoke, which I remembered from a child’s edition of the Arabian Nights. But if he was dim, the lady was dimmer. Sometimes I thought of her as a fat old German crone, sometimes as a harsh-
featured woman like a schoolmistress with thin lips and eyeglasses. But I had to fit the East into the picture, so I made her young and gave her a touch of the languid houri in a veil. I was always wanting to pump Blenkiron on the subject, but he shut up like a rat-trap. He was looking for bad trouble in that direction, and was disinclined to speak about it beforehand.
We led a peaceful existence. Our servants were two of Sandy’s lot, for Blenkiron had very rightly cleared out the Turkish caretakers, and they worked like beavers under Peter’s eye, till I reflected I had never been so well looked after in my life. I walked about the city with Blenkiron, keeping my eyes open, and speaking very civil. The third night we were bidden to dinner at Moellendorff’s, so we put on our best clothes and set out in an ancient cab. Blenkiron had fetched a dress suit of mine, from which my own tailor’s label had been cut and a New York one substituted.
General Liman and Metternich the Ambassador had gone up the line to Nish to meet the Kaiser, who was touring in those parts, so Moellendorff was the biggest German in the city. He was a thin, foxy-faced fellow, cleverish but monstrously'' vain, and he was not very popular either with the Germans or the Turks. He was polite to both of us, but I am bound to say that I got a bad fright when I entered the room, for the first man I saw was Gaudian.
I doubt if he would have recognized me even in the clothes I had worn in Stumm’s company, for his eyesight was wretched. As it was, I ran no risk in dress clothes, with my hair brushed back and a fine American accent. I paid him high compliments as a fellow engineer, and translated part of a very technical conversation between him and Blenkiron. Gaudian was in uniform, and I j liked the look of his honest face better than ever.
But the great event was the sight of Enver. He was a slim fellow of Rasta’s build, very foppish and precise in his dress, with a smooth oval face like a girl’s, and rather fine straight black eyebrows. He spoke perfect German, and had the best kind of manners, neither pert nor overbearing. He had a pleasant trick, too, of appealing all round the table for confirmation, and so bringing every body into the talk. Not that he spoke a great deal, but all he said was good sense, and he had a smiling way of saying it. Once or twice he ran counter to Moellendorff, and I could see there was no love lost between these two. I didn’t think I wanted him as a friend—he was too cold-blooded and artificial; and I was pretty certain that I didn’t want those steady black eyes as an enemy. But it was no good denying his quality. The little fellow was all cold courage, like the fine polished blue steel of a sword.
I fancy I was rather a success at that dinner. For one thing I could speak German, and so had a pull on Blenkiron. For another I was in a good temper, and really enjoyed putting my back into my part. They talked very high-flown stuff about what they had done and were going to do, and Enver was great on Gallipoli. I remember he said that he could have destroyed the whole British Army if it hadn’t been for somebody’s cold feet—at which Moellendorff looked daggers. They were so bitter about Britain and all her works that I gathered they were getting pretty panicky, and that made me as jolly as a sandboy. I'm afraid I was not free from bitterness myself on that subject. I said things about my own country that I sometimes wake in the night and sweat to think of.
Gaudian got on to the use of water power in war, and that gave me a chance.
“In my country,” I said, “when we want to get rid of a mountain we wash it away. There’s nothing on earth that will stand against water. Now, speaking with all respect, gentlemen, and as an absolute novice in the military art, I sometimes ask why this God-given weapon isn’t more used in the present war. I haven’t been to any of the fronts, but I’ve studied them some from maps and the newspapers. Take your German position in Flanders, where you’ve got the high ground. If I were a British
general I reckon I would very soon make it no sort of position.”
Moellendorff asked, “How?”
“Why, I’d wash it away. Wash away the fourteen feet of soil down to the stone. There’s a heap of coalpits behind the British front where they could generate power, and I judge there’s an ample water supply from rivers and canals. I’d guarantee to wash you away in twenty-four hours—yes, in spite of all your big guns. It beats me why the British haven’t got on to this notion. They used to have some bright engineers.”
Enver was on the point like a knife, far quicker than Gaudian. He crossexamined me in a way that showed he knew how to approach a technical subject, though he mightn’t have much technical knowledge. He was just giving me a sketch of the flooding in Mesopotamia when an aide-de-camp brought in a chit which fetched him to his feet.
“I have gossiped long enough,” he said. “My kind host, I must leave you. Gentlemen all, my apologies and farewells.”
Before he left he asked my name and wrote it down. “This is an unhealthy city for strangers, Mr. Hanau,” he said in very good English. “I have some small power of protecting a friend, and what I have is at your disposal.” This with the condescension of a king promising his favor to a subject.
The little fellow amused me tremendously, and rather impressed me, too. I said so to Gaudian after he had left, but that decent soul didn’t agree.
“I do not love him,” he said. “We are allies—yes; but friends—no. He is no true son of Islam, which is a noble faith and despises liars and boasters and betrayers of their salt.”
That was the verdict of one honest man on this ruler in Israel. The next night I got another from Blenkiron on a greater than Enver.
He had been out alone and had come back pretty late, with his face grey and drawn with pain. The food we ate—not at all bad of its kind—and the cold east wind played havoc with his dyspepsia. I can see him yet, boiling milk on a spirit lamp', while Peter worked at a Primus stove to get him a hotwater bottle. He was using horrid language about his inside.
“My God, Major, if I were you with a sound stomach, I’d fairly conquer the world. As it is, I’ve got to do my work with half my mind, while the other half is dwelling in my intestines. I’m like the child in the Bible that had a fox gnawing at its vitals.”
He got his milk boiling and began to sip it.
“I’ve been to see our pretty landlady,” he said. “She sent for me and I hobbled off with a grip full of plans, for she’s mighty set on Mesopotamy.”
“Anything about Greenmantle?” I asked eagerly.
“Why, no, but I have reached one conclusion. I opine that the hapless prophet has no sort of time with that lady. I opine that he will soon wish himself in Paradise. For if Almighty God ever created a female devil it’s Madame von Einem.”
He sipped a little more milk with a grave face.
“That isn’t my duodenal dyspepsia, Major. It’s the verdict of a ripe experience, for I have a cool and penetrating judgment, even if I’ve a deranged stomach. And I give it as my considered conclusion that that woman’s mad and bad—but principally bad.” To be Continued
NEW ROOFING material is being made in Birmingham, Eng., consisting of two layers of thin drawn sheet glass with a middle layer of glass silk—glass drawn out to the fineness of silk thread. In certain instances, it is claimed, this material can also be used for walls in place of bricks and mortar.
Glass silk is well known for its remarkable heat-insulating properties, so that it can keep a building cool in summer and warm in winter.—Christian Science Monitor.