Page:BulldogDrummondSapper.djvu/301

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297
THE LAST ROUND TAKES PLACE

names on the organising staffs, the first-class general lecturers deprived him of speech.

"Why," he spluttered after a moment, "a lot of these people's names are absolute household words in the country. They may be swine—they probably are. Thank God! I've very rarely met any; but they ain't criminals."

"No more is Peterson," grinned the American; "at least not on that book. See here, Captain, it's pretty clear what's happening. In any country to-day you've got all sorts and conditions of people with more wind than brain. They just can't stop talking, and as yet it's not a criminal offence. Some of 'em believe what they say, like Spindle-shanks upstairs; some of 'em don't. And if they don't, it makes 'em worse: they start writing as well. You've got clever men, intellectual men—look at some of those guys in the first-class general lecturers—and they're the worst of the lot. Then you've got another class—the men with the business brain, who think they're getting the sticky end of it, and use the talkers to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them. And the chestnuts, who are the poor blamed decent working-men, are promptly dropped in the ash-pit to keep 'em quiet. They all want something for nothing, and I guess it can't be done. They all think they're fooling one another, and what's really going at the moment is that Peterson is fooling the whole bunch. He wants all the strings in his hands, and it looks to me as if he'd got 'em there. He's got the money—and we know where he got it from; he's got the organisation—all either red-hot revolutionaries, or intellectual wind-