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George’s V.C.
by [?]

“By jove,” he cried, “the secret document! The very thing.”

To put the document into an envelope was the work of a moment. Taking up a pen he printed on the outside in large capitals these words:


With a diabolical smile he sealed the envelope up, rang the bell, and ordered Second-Lieutenant Lord Smith to be brought before him.

“You wanted me, sir?” said Lord Smith on his arrival.

Of all the distinguished officers in the Nth Battalion, Lord Smith was perhaps the most brilliant. Although he had held his commission for three years he had only been arrested twice by the Provost-Marshal–the first time for wearing a soft cap when, as an officer and gentleman, he should have worn a hard one, and the second time, three months later, for wearing a hard cap when, as an officer and gentleman, he should have worn a soft one. Nobody can deny that these were serious blots on his career, but it was felt in the trenches that his skill with the rifle partially atoned for them.

“Ah, Smith, my boy,” said the Major genially, “I just wanted to know the address of your tailor. Wonderfully well-cut tunic this of yours.” He went over to him and, under pretence of examining the cut of his tunic, dropped the envelope cautiously into one of the pockets.

Somewhat surprised at the compliment paid to his tailor, but entirely unsuspicious, Lord Smith gave him the required address.

“Thanks,” said the Major. “By the way, I’ve got to go out now; would you mind waiting here till the Colonel comes back? He has left an extremely important document on his table and I do not like to leave the room unoccupied.”

“Certainly, sir,” said Lord Smith.

Left alone, our hero gave himself up to thought. For some reason he distrusted the Major; he felt that they were rivals for the hand of Rosamund Blowhard. On ten Sundays in succession he had been forced to attend Church Parade, what time the Major and Rosamund were disporting themselves on the golf links. It was only on Saturday afternoons that he had a chance of seeing her alone, and yet he felt somehow that she loved him.

“Ah, Smith, my boy,” said the Colonel as he bustled in. “Always glad to see you. My favourite subaltern,” he went on, with his hand on the young man’s shoulder; “the best officer who ever formed a four at bridge–I mean, who ever formed fours; and a holder of no fewer than three musketry certificates.”

Lord Smith smiled modestly.

“There, I must get on with my work,” went on the Colonel, sitting down at his table and turning over his papers. “You find me very–you find me–you find–good Heavens!”

“What is it, sir?”

“I don’t find it–I’ve lost it; the secret document!”

“Was it very important, sir?”

“Important!” cried the Colonel. “If Hindenburg–but we must get to work. Summon the guard, blow the fire-alarm, send for the Orderly Sergeant.”

In less than a minute the room was full of armed men, including the Major.

“Men of the Nth Blankshires,” said the Colonel, addressing them, “a document of enormous importance has been stolen from this room. Unless that document is recovered the fair name of the Regiment will be irretrievably tarnished.”

“Never!” cried a Corporal of the Signalling Section, and there was a deep murmur of applause.

“May I suggest, sir,” said the Major, “that the pockets of all should be searched? I myself am quite ready to set the example,” and as he spoke he drew out three receipted bills and a price list of tomatoes, and placed them before the Colonel.

One by one they followed his example.

Suddenly all eyes were fixed on Second-Lieutenant Lord Smith, as with horror and amazement upon his face he drew from his pocket the official-looking envelope.

“I swear I never put it there, sir,” he gasped.

“Perhaps I ought to tell you, sir,” said the Major, “that I asked Lord Smith to keep an eye upon the document during my absence. No doubt he placed it in his pocket for safety.”