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When Peggy heard of the sufferings they had endured and the mental torture they had gone through when adrift upon the raft, she was filled with two emotions: a great wonder that human men could face such terrors and survive, a feeling of thankfulness to the great God Who watches over all, Who holds in wonderful subjection life and death, victory and defeat.
The story of the North Sea fight rang throughout the British Empire, from Melbourne to Vancouver, from the Orkneys to the Cape. It mattered little what the Germans had to say, whether or not they believed that the "Lion" and the "Tiger" had been sent beneath the waves; the fact remained that all Britons were assured that, should the German High Seas Fleet desire to put matters to the test, should the great battleships that were rusting in the Kiel Canal come forth upon the open sea, the Grand Fleet of Britain was prepared to meet them. Until that time, raids might take place, by aeroplanes and Zeppelins; but, as far as any grand invasion was concerned, the shores of England were-as they have been in the past-inviolable and secure.
A winter afternoon was far advanced, and the streets shrouded in gloomy darkness, when Crouch and his companions arrived in London. They went first to the head-offices of Jason, Stileman and May; then to Scotland Yard where they found Superintendent-detective Etheridge, who accompanied them to the Admiralty, where once again they were questioned and congratulated by Commander Fells.
All that happened in those few days in London can be told in a dozen lines.
Commander Fells had not spoken rashly when he promised that the Admiralty would not forget the services that Crouch and his young friend had rendered to the Allied cause. The firm of Jason, Stileman and May rewarded the boy handsomely for saving the "Harlech." Jimmy-who a few weeks ago had been a pauper in New York-found himself the possessor of a banking account such as he had never dreamed of. For days he carried his cheque-book about with him, as if it were a kind of passport-as, indeed, a cheque-book is.
The boy was given the choice of a commission in the Royal Naval Division or one of the Service battalions of the new army. He now wears a khaki uniform and a Sam Browne belt, and is burnt to the colour of tan by many months in the sun; and on each shoulder-strap and on the lapels of his jacket is the grenade crest and the title badges of the Royal Wessex Fusiliers.
As for the Baron von Essling-who was no less a person than "Mr. Valentine" of the "Hotel Magnificent" – he is to be found at a Prisoners-of-War camp at Wakefield, where he spends most of his time reading the works of Treitschke, who has much to say that is gratifying (to a German) on the subject of World Power and the downfall of the British Empire.
Unfortunately, Herr Rosencrantz still enjoys the privileges of his alleged neutrality; and it is quite unlikely-however long the war may last-that he will ever venture to risk his precious life.He still carries on his business as a money-lender, though nowadays his practices are said to have become so extremely dubious and shady that even Guildenstern has given up his share in the business.
Crouch is still Crouch, though he wears the uniform of a naval officer, with the twisted gold stripes upon his sleeve that denote the Royal Naval Reserve. The Admiralty-who were not disposed to waste the services of so valuable a man-saw to it that he received an appointment in which he was likely to have ample opportunity of displaying both his presence of mind and courage. He now holds a senior and responsible position on board one of the armed auxiliaries that are doing duty as light cruisers in the outer seas, though-in the public interest-what his work exactly is cannot be explained.
The World War has spread to the uttermost parts of the earth. It came, like a sudden and tremendous earthquake, to shake Civilization itself to its foundations. It has sent men, who in the long-off days of Peace thought little of wars and little dreamed of fighting, to all climes and countries. And so it was with Crouch and the two young friends that came with him to London. Peggy is working hard in a base hospital in France. Jimmy Burke is in Flanders. The exact whereabouts of Captain Crouch is quite unknown; he was last heard of in mid-Atlantic, where he is likely to be as much at home as anywhere else. One thing, however, is quite certain: in spite of his previous experience, in spite of the ill-fated U93, he cares no more for a German submarine than a porpoise or a black-fish.
The World War must continue to the end. Civilization can never again know the meaning of Peace until the German States themselves have endured the havoc and witnessed the desolation that follows in the path of War. To that end, Britons, Latins and Slavs will continue to strive, giving freely of their very best and bravest, that the world may, at last, be free. And it is for that far-off Freedom that the guns are thundering now, on the Yser, on the wild plains of Poland, on the towering heights of the Italian frontier, on the classic lands of Greece, and even in the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates, the cradle of the human race.
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