The Day; or the Passing of a Throneby Fred M White
The two men in the back room behind the little Italian pastrycook's shop in Stanton-street were making history. As yet they did not know it; they were to find it out later on. The elder of the two, the man with the grey moustache ferociously cooked and the cook's cap on the back of his head, was known locally as Manuel Serano, and his younger companion as Luigi Serrai… See more details below
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The two men in the back room behind the little Italian pastrycook's shop in Stanton-street were making history. As yet they did not know it; they were to find it out later on. The elder of the two, the man with the grey moustache ferociously cooked and the cook's cap on the back of his head, was known locally as Manuel Serano, and his younger companion as Luigi Serrai; but as a matter of fact the leader was Stuart Hallett, of the Secret Service, and the other Paul Rosslyn, his chief assistant. It was what they called early closing day so that they were free to discuss the knotty problem which had been worrying them for the past month.
"Now what do you make of it?" Hallett asked. "Have you got any further with the cipher? I suppose you are quite convinced that somebody is working a pretty powerful wireless within the four-mile radius. The question is. Can you locate it?"
"I believe I have done so," Rosslyn said quietly. "But don't you think, sir, it would be a mistake to raid the place? Those people are quite convinced that we have overlooked them and that their code is absolutely beyond detection. Well it isn't. As you know, I haven't been making a study of wireless in connection with aeroplanes the last three years for nothing. Now I believe I've got one of last night's messages decoded."Rosslyn took from his pocket what appeared to be a mass of mathematical formula. As he explained the position and value of certain letters and figures, Hallett nodded approvingly. A few moments later and he was reading for himself the last message dispatched from the mysterious wireless station on the previous evening. He read the message aloud, slowly and carefully thus:—
"The Mailed Fist is torn and bruised. The steel gauntlet is filled with its wearer's blood. The time has come to cut it off."
There was no more than that but Hallett laughed aloud in the sheer joy of discovery. He patted Rosslyn on the back.
"Egad, the chap who sent that message is right there. For three months now the Mailed Fist has been hammering against Liege and Namur and the French advance until every nuckle is broken. By gad, who would have thought three months ago that little Belgium could have held the Mad Dog by his tongue all this time. And what would the German people say if they knew the truth?"
"Heaven only knows. It strikes me that the man who sent that message wants them to know. Any way we are aware of the fact that he is a German and evidently no friend of the tin Napoleon. No; my theory is this. Somewhere in the City these people have got an office, or perhaps an whole building. It would be a building preferably which carried on the roof a telephone standard sustaining a hundred or two wires. Now you can quite see how easy it would be to mix up the aerial with these. If you have a dynamo in the basement with sufficient power you could send messages any practical distance—certainly as far as Berlin, which is what our mysterious friend seems to be aiming at."
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