1. A Mission is Proposed
2. The Gathering of the Missionaries
3. Peter Pienaar
4. Adventures of Two Dutchmen on the Loose
5. Further Adventures of the Same
6. The Indiscretions of the Same
7. Christmas Eve
8. The Essen Barges
9. The Return of the Straggler
10. The Garden-House of Suliman the Red
11. The Companions of the Rosy Hours
12. Four Missionaries See Light in Their Mission
13. I Move in Good Society
14. The Lady of the Mantilla
15. An Embarrassed Toilet
16. The Battered Caravanserai
17. Trouble By the Waters of Babylon
18. Sparrows on the Housetops
20. Peter Pienaar Goes to the Wars
21. The Little Hill
22. The Guns of the North
A Mission is Proposed
I had just finished breakfast and was filling my pipe when I got
Bullivant's telegram. It was at Furling, the big country house in
Hampshire where I had come to convalesce after Loos, and Sandy, who was
in the same case, was hunting for the marmalade. I flung him the
flimsy with the blue strip pasted down on it, and he whistled.
'Hullo, Dick, you've got the battalion. Or maybe it's a staff billet.
You'll be a blighted brass-hat, coming it heavy over the hard-working
regimental officer. And to think of the language you've wasted on
brass-hats in your time!'
I sat and thought for a bit, for the name 'Bullivant' carried me back
eighteen months to the hot summer before the war. I had not seen the
man since, though I had read about him in the papers. For more than a
year I had been a busy battalion officer, with no other thought than to
hammer a lot of raw stuff into good soldiers. I had succeeded pretty
well, and there was no prouder man on earth than Richard Hannay when he
took his Lennox Highlanders over the parapets on that glorious and
bloody 25th day of September. Loos was no picnic, and we had had some
ugly bits of scrapping before that, but the worst bit of the campaign I
had seen was a tea-party to the show I had been in with Bullivant
before the war started. [Major Hannay's narrative of this affair has
been published under the title of _The Thirty-nine Steps_.]
The sight of his name on a telegram form seemed to change all my
outlook on life. I had been hoping for the command of the battalion,
and looking forward to being in at the finish with Brother Boche. But
this message jerked my thoughts on to a new road. There might be other
things in the war than straightforward fighting. Why on earth should
the Foreign Office want to see an obscure Major of the New Army, and
want to see him in double-quick time?
'I'm going up to town by the ten train,' I announced; 'I'll be back in
time for dinner.'
'Try my tailor,' said Sandy. 'He's got a very nice taste in red tabs.
You can use my name.'
An idea struck me. 'You're pretty well all right now. If I wire for
you, will you pack your own kit and mine and join me?'
'Right-o! I'll accept a job on your staff if they give you a corps. If
so be as you come down tonight, be a good chap and bring a barrel of
oysters from Sweeting's.'
I travelled up to London in a regular November drizzle, which cleared
up about Wimbledon to watery sunshine. I never could stand London
during the war. It seemed to have lost its bearings and broken out
into all manner of badges and uniforms which did not fit in with my
notion of it. One felt the war more in its streets than in the field,
or rather one felt the confusion of war without feeling the purpose. I
dare say it was all right; but since August 1914 I never spent a day in
town without coming home depressed to my boots.
I took a taxi and drove straight to the Foreign Office. Sir Walter did
not keep me waiting long. But when his secretary took me to his room I
would not have recognized the man I had known eighteen months before.
His big frame seemed to have dropped flesh and there was a stoop in the
square shoulders. His face had lost its rosiness and was red in
patches, like that of a man who gets too little fresh air. His hair
was much greyer and very thin about the temples, and there were lines
of overwork below the eyes. But the eyes were the same as before, keen
and kindly and shrewd, and there was no change in the firm set of the
'We must on no account be disturbed for the next hour,' he told his
secretary. When the young man had gone he went across to both doors
and turned the keys in them.
'Well, Major Hannay,' he said, flinging himself into a chair beside the
fire. 'How do you like soldiering?'