Infomotions, Inc.The Zeppelin's Passenger / Oppenheim, E. Phillips (Edward Phillips), 1866-1946



Author: Oppenheim, E. Phillips (Edward Phillips), 1866-1946
Title: The Zeppelin's Passenger
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): lessingham; philippa; helen; griffiths; captain griffiths; lady cranston; henry; hamar lessingham; miss fairclough; major felstead; lessingham replied; philippa replied
Contributor(s): Swanwick, Anna, 1813-1899 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 63,836 words (short) Grade range: 6-9 (grade school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext1931
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The Zeppelin's Passenger

by E. Phillips Oppenheim

October, 1999  [Etext #1931]
[Date last updated: October 25, 2005]


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The Zeppelin's Passenger

by E. Phillips Oppenheim




CHAPTER I


"Never heard a sound," the younger of the afternoon callers
admitted, getting rid of his empty cup and leaning forward in his
low chair.  "No more tea, thank you, Miss Fairclough.  Done
splendidly, thanks.   No, I went to bed last night soon after
eleven--the Colonel had been route marching us all off our legs
--and I never awoke until reveille this morning.  Sleep of the
just, and all that sort of thing, but a jolly sell, all the same!
You hear anything of it, sir?" he asked, turning to his companion,
who was seated a few feet away.

Captain Griffiths shook his head.  He was a man considerably older
than his questioner, with long, nervous face, and thick black hair
streaked with grey.  His fingers were bony, his complexion, for a
soldier, curiously sallow, and notwithstanding his height, which
was considerable, he was awkward, at times almost uncouth.  His
voice was hard and unsympathetic, and his contributions to the
tea-table talk had been almost negligible.

"I was up until two o'clock, as it happened," he replied, "but I
knew nothing about the matter until it was brought to my notice
officially."

Helen Fairclough, who was doing the honours for Lady Cranston, her
absent hostess, assumed the slight air of superiority to which the
circumstances of the case entitled her.

"I heard it distinctly," she declared; "in fact it woke me up.  I
hung out of the window, and I could hear the engine just as plainly
as though it were over the golf links."

The young subaltern sighed.

"Rotten luck I have with these things," he confided.  "That's three
times they've been over, and I've neither heard nor seen one.  This
time they say that it had the narrowest shave on earth of coming
down.  Of course, you've heard of the observation car found on
Dutchman's Common this morning?"

The girl assented.

"Did you see it?" she enquired.

"Not a chance," was the gloomy reply.  "It was put on two covered
trucks and sent up to London by the first train.  Captain Griffiths
can tell you what it was like, I dare say.  You were down there,
weren't you, sir?"

"I superintended its removal," the latter informed them.  "It was
a very uninteresting affair."

"Any bombs in it?" Helen asked.

"Not a sign of one.  Just a hard seat, two sets of field-glasses and
a telephone.  It seems to have got caught in some trees and been
dragged off."

"How exciting!" the girl murmured.  "I suppose there wasn't any one
in it?"

Griffiths shook his head.

"I believe," he explained, "that these observation cars, although
they are attached to most of the Zeppelins, are seldom used in night
raids."

"I should like to have seen it, all the same," Helen confessed.

"You would have been disappointed," her informant assured her.
"By-the-by," he added, a little awkwardly, "are you not expecting
Lady Cranston back this evening?"

"I am expecting her every moment.  The car has gone down to the
station to meet her."

Captain Griffiths appeared to receive the news with a certain
undemonstrative satisfaction.  He leaned back in his chair with
the air of one who is content to wait.

"Have you heard, Miss Fairclough," his younger companion enquired,
a little diffidently, "whether Lady Cranston had any luck in town?"

Helen Fairclough looked away.  There was a slight mist before her
eyes.

"I had a letter this morning," she replied.  "She seems to have
heard nothing at all encouraging so far."

"And you haven't heard from Major Felstead himself, I suppose?"

The girl shook her head.

"Not a line," she sighed.  "It's two months now since we last had
a letter."

"Jolly bad luck to get nipped just as he was doing so well," the
young man observed sympathetically.

"It all seems very cruel," Helen agreed.  "He wasn't really fit to
go back, but the Board passed him because they were so short of
officers and he kept worrying them.  He was so afraid he'd get
moved to another battalion.  Then he was taken prisoner in that
horrible Pervais affair, and sent to the worst camp in Germany.
Since then, of course, Philippa and I have had a wretched time,
worrying."

"Major Felstead is Lady Cranston's only brother, is he not?"
Griffiths enquired.

"And my only fiancé," she replied, with a little grimace.  "However,
don't let us talk about our troubles any more," she continued, with
an effort at a lighter tone.  "You'll find some cigarettes on that
table, Mr. Harrison.  I can't think where Nora is.  I expect she
has persuaded some one to take her out trophy-hunting to Dutchman's
Common."

"The road all the way is like a circus," the young soldier observed,
"and there isn't a thing to be seen when you get there.  The naval
airmen were all over the place at daybreak, and Captain Griffiths
wasn't far behind them.  You didn't leave much for the sightseers,
sir," he concluded, turning to his neighbour.

"As Commandant of the place," Captain Griffiths replied, "I naturally
had to have the Common searched.  With the exception of the
observation car, however, I think that I am betraying no confidences
in telling you that we discovered nothing of interest."

"Do you suppose that the Zeppelin was in difficulties, as she was
flying so low?" Helen enquired.

"It is a perfectly reasonable hypothesis," the Commandant assented.
"Two patrol boats were sent out early this morning, in search of her.
An old man whom I saw at Waburne declares that she passed like a
long, black cloud, just over his head, and that he was almost
deafened by the noise of the engines.  Personally, I cannot believe
that they would come down so low unless she was in some trouble."

The door of the comfortable library in which they were seated was
suddenly thrown open.  An exceedingly alert-looking young lady,
very much befreckled, and as yet unemancipated from the long
plaits of the schoolroom, came in like a whirlwind.  In her hand
she carried a man's Homburg hat, which she waved aloft in triumph.

"Come in, Arthur," she shouted to a young subaltern who was
hovering in the background.  "Look what I've got, Helen!  A trophy!
Just look, Mr. Harrison and Captain Griffiths!  I found it in a
bush, not twenty yards from where the observation car came down."

Helen turned the hat around in amused bewilderment.

"But, my dear child," she exclaimed, "this is nothing but an
ordinary hat!  People who travel in Zeppelins don't wear things
like that.  How do you do, Mr. Somerfield?" she added, smiling at
the young man who had followed Nora into the room.

"Don't they!" the latter retorted, with an air of superior
knowledge.  "Just look here!"

She turned down the lining and showed it to them.  "What do you
make of that?" she asked triumphantly.

Helen gazed at the gold-printed letters a little incredulously.

"Read it out," Nora insisted.

Helen obeyed:

               "Schmidt,
                    Berlin,
                         Unter den Linden, 127."

"That sounds German," she admitted.

"It's a trophy, all right," Nora declared.  "One of the crew--
probably the Commander--must have come on board in a hurry and
changed into uniform after they had started."

"It is my painful duty, Miss Nora," Harrison announced solemnly,
"to inform you, on behalf of Captain Griffiths, that all articles
of whatsoever description, found in the vicinity of Dutchman's
Common, which might possibly have belonged to any one in the
Zeppelin, must be sent at once to the War Office."

"Rubbish!" Nora scoffed.  "The War Office aren't going to have my
hat."

"Duty," the young man began--

"You can go back to the Depot and do your duty, then, Mr. Harrison,"
Nora interrupted, "but you're not going to have my hat.  I'd throw
it into the fire sooner than give it up."

"Military regulations must be obeyed, Miss Nora," Captain Griffiths
ventured thoughtfully.

"Nothing so important as hats," Harrison put in.  "You see they fit
--somebody."

The girl's gesture was irreverent but convincing.  "I'd listen to
anything Captain Griffiths had to say," she declared, "but you boys
who are learning to be soldiers are simply eaten up with conceit.
There's nothing in your textbook about hats.  If you're going to
make yourselves disagreeable about this, I shall simply ignore the
regiment."

The two young men fell into attitudes of mock dismay.  Nora took a
chocolate from a box.

"Be merciful, Miss Nora!" Harrison pleaded tearfully.

"Don't break the regiment up altogether," Somerfield begged, with a
little catch in his voice.

"All very well for you two to be funny," Nora went on, revisiting
the chocolate box, "but you've heard about the Seaforths coming,
haven't you?  I adore kilts, and so does Helen; don't you, Helen?"

"Every woman does," Helen admitted, smiling.  "I suppose the child
really can keep the hat, can't she?" she added, turning to the
Commandant.

"Officially the matter is outside my cognizance," he declared.  "I
shall have nothing to say."

The two young men exchanged glances.

"A hat," Somerfield ruminated, "especially a Homburg hat, is scarcely
an appurtenance of warfare."

His brother officer stood for a moment looking gravely at the object
in question.  Then he winked at Somerfield and sighed.

"I shall take the whole responsibility," he decided magnanimously,
"of saying nothing about the matter.  We can't afford to quarrel
with Miss Nora, can we, Somerfield?"

"Not on your life," that young man agreed.

"Sensible boys!" Nora pronounced graciously.

"Thank you very much, Captain Griffiths, for not encouraging them
in their folly.  You can take me as far as the post-office when
you go, Arthur," she continued, turning to the fortunate possessor
of the side-car, "and we'll have some golf to-morrow afternoon, if
you like."

"Won't Mr. Somerfield have some tea?" Helen invited.

"Thank you very much, Miss Fairclough," the man replied; "we had
tea some time ago at Watson's, where I found Miss Nora."

Nora suddenly held up her finger.  "Isn't that the car?" she asked.
"Why, it must be mummy, here already.  Yes, I can hear her voice!"

Griffiths, who had moved eagerly towards the window, looked back.

"It is Lady Cranston," he announced solemnly.



CHAPTER II


The woman who paused for a moment upon the threshold of the library,
looking in upon the little company, was undeniably beautiful.  She
had masses of red-gold hair, a little disordered by her long
railway journey, deep-set hazel eyes, a delicate, almost
porcelain-like complexion, and a sensitive, delightfully shaped
mouth.  Her figure was small and dainty, and just at that moment she
had an appearance of helplessness which was almost childlike.  Nora,
after a vigorous embrace, led her stepmother towards a chair.

"Come and sit by the fire, Mummy," she begged.  "You look tired and
cold."

Philippa exchanged a general salutation with her guests.  She was
still wearing her travelling coat, and her air of fatigue was
unmistakable.  Griffiths, who had not taken his eyes off her since
her entrance, wheeled an easy-chair towards the hearth-rug, into
which she sank with a murmured word of thanks.

"You'll have some tea, won't you, dear?" Helen enquired.

Philippa shook her head.  Her eyes met her friend's for a moment
--it was only a very brief glance, but the tragedy of some mutual
sorrow seemed curiously revealed in that unspoken question and
answer.  The two young subalterns prepared to take their leave.
Nora, kneeling down, stroked her stepmother's hand.

"No news at all, then?" Helen faltered.

"None," was the weary reply.

"Any amount of news here, Mummy," Nora intervened cheerfully, "and
heaps of excitement.  We had a Zeppelin over Dutchman's Common last
night, and she lost her observation car.  Mr. Somerfield took me
up there this afternoon, and I found a German hat.  No one else got
a thing, and, would you believe it, those children over there tried
to take it away from me."

Her stepmother smiled faintly.

"I expect you are keeping the hat, dear," she observed.

"I should say so!" Nora assented.

Philippa held out her hand to the two young men who had been waiting
to take their leave.

"You must come and dine one night this week, both of you," she said.
"My husband will be home by the later train this evening, and I'm
sure he will be glad to have you."

"Very kind of you, Lady Cranston, we shall be delighted," Harrison
declared.

"Rather!" his companion echoed.

Nora led them away, and Helen, with a word of excuse, followed them.
Griffiths, who had also risen to his feet, came a little nearer to
Philippa's chair.

"And you, too, of course, Captain Griffiths," she said, smiling
pleasantly up at him.  "Must you hurry away?"

"I will stay, if I may, until Miss Fairclough returns," he answered,
resuming his seat.

"Do!" Philippa begged him.  "I have had such a miserable time in
town.  You can't think how restful it is to be back here."

"I am afraid," he observed, "that your journey has not been
successful."

Philippa shook her head.

"It has been completely unsuccessful," she sighed.  "I have not
been able to hear a word about my brother.  I am so sorry for poor
Helen, too.  They were only engaged, you know, a few days before he
left for the front this last time."

Captain Griffiths nodded sympathetically.

"I never met Major Felstead," he remarked, "but every one who has
seems to like him very much.  He was doing so well, too, up to that
last unfortunate affair, wasn't he?"

"Dick is a dear," Philippa declared.  "I never knew any one with so
many friends.  He would have been commanding his battalion now, if
only he were free.  His colonel wrote and told me so himself."

"I wish there were something I could do," Griffiths murmured, a
little awkwardly.  "It hurts me, Lady Cranston, to see you so upset."

She looked at him for a moment in faint surprise.

"Nobody can do anything," she bemoaned.  "That is the unfortunate
part of it all."

He rose to his feet and was immediately conscious, as he always was
when he stood up, that there was a foot or two of his figure which
he had no idea what to do with.

"You wouldn't feel like a ride to-morrow morning, Lady Cranston?" he
asked, with a wistfulness which seemed somehow stifled in his rather
unpleasant voice.  She shook her head.

"Perhaps one morning later," she replied, a little vaguely.  "I
haven't any heart for anything just now."

He took a sombre but agitated leave of his hostess, and went out
into the twilight, cursing his lack of ease, remembering the things
which he had meant to say, and hating himself for having forgotten
them.  Philippa, to whom his departure had been, as it always was,
a relief, was already leaning forward in her chair with her arm
around Helen's neck.

"I thought that extraordinary man would never go," she exclaimed,
"and I was longing to send for you, Helen.  London has been such a
dreary chapter of disappointments."

"What a sickening time you must have had, dear!"

"It was horrid," Philippa assented sadly, "but you know Henry is
no use at all, and I should have felt miserable unless I had gone.
I have been to every friend at the War Office, and every friend
who has friends there.  I have made every sort of enquiry, and I
know just as much now as I did when I left here--that Richard was
a prisoner at Wittenberg the last time they heard, and that they
have received no notification whatever concerning him for the last
two months."

Helen glanced at the calendar.

"It is just two months to-day," she said mournfully, "since we heard."

"And then," Philippa sighed, "he hadn't received a single one of our
parcels."

Helen rose suddenly to her feet.  She was a tall, fair girl of the
best Saxon type, slim but not in the least angular, with every
promise, indeed, of a fuller and more gracious development in the
years to come.  She was barely twenty-two years old, and, as is
common with girls of her complexion, seemed younger.  Her bright,
intelligent face was, above all, good-humoured.  Just at that moment,
however, there was a flush of passionate anger in her cheeks.

"It makes me feel almost beside myself," she exclaimed, "this
hideous incapacity for doing anything!  Here we are living in luxury,
without a single privation, whilst Dick, the dearest thing on
earth to both of us, is being starved and goaded to death in a foul
German prison!"

"We mustn't believe that it's quite so bad as that, dear," Philippa
remonstrated.  "What is it, Mills?"

The elderly man-servant who had entered with a tray in his band,
bowed as he arranged it upon a side table.

"I have taken the liberty of bringing in a little fresh tea, your
ladyship," he announced, "and some hot buttered toast.  Cook has
sent some of the sandwiches, too, which your ladyship generally
fancies."

"It is very kind of you, Mills," Philippa said, with rather a wan
little smile.  "I had some tea at South Lynn, but it was very bad.
You might take my coat, please."

She stood up, and the heavy fur coat slipped easily away from her
slim, elegant little body.

"Shall I light up, your ladyship?" Mills enquired.

"You might light a lamp," Philippa directed, "but don't draw the
blinds until lighting-up time.  After the noise of London," she went
on, turning to Helen, "I always think that the faint sound of the
sea is so restful."

The man moved noiselessly about the room and returned once more to
his mistress.

"We should be glad to hear, your ladyship," he said, "if there is
any news of Major Felstead?"  Philippa shook her head.

"None at all, I am sorry to say, Mills!  Still, we must hope for
the best.  I dare say that some of these camps are not so bad as
we imagine."

"We must hope not, your ladyship," was the somewhat dismal reply.
"Shall I fasten the windows?"

"You can leave them until you draw the blinds, Mills," Philippa
directed.  "I am not at home, if any one should call.  See that
we are undisturbed for a little time."

"Very good, your ladyship."

The door was closed, and the two women were once more alone.
Philippa held out her arms.

"Helen, darling, come and be nice to me," she begged.  "Let us both
pretend that no news is good news.  Oh, I know what you are
suffering, but remember that even if Dick is your lover, he is my
dear, only brother--my twin brother, too.  We have been so much to
each other all our lives.  He'll stick it out, dear, if any human
being can.  We shall have him back with us some day."

"But he is hungry," Helen sobbed.  "I can't bear to think of his
being hungry.  Every time I sit down to eat, it almost chokes me."

"I suppose he has forgotten what a whisky and soda is like,"
Philippa murmured, with a little catch in her own throat.

"He always used to love one about this time," Helen faltered,
glancing at the clock.

"And cigarettes!" Philippa exclaimed.  "I wonder whether they give
him anything to smoke."

"Nasty German tobacco, if they do," Helen rejoined indignantly.
"And to think that I have sent him at least six hundred of his
favourite Egyptians!"

She fell once more on her knees by her friend's side.  Their arms
were intertwined, their cheeks touching.  One of those strange,
feminine silences of acute sympathy seemed to hold them for a while
under its thrall.  Then, almost at the same moment, a queer
awakening came for both of them.  Helen's arm was stiffened.
Philippa turned her head, but her eyes were filled with incredulous
fear.  A little current of cool air was blowing through the room.
The French windows stood half open, and with his back to them, a
man who had apparently entered the room from the gardens and passed
noiselessly across the soft carpet, was standing by the door,
listening.  They heard him turn the key.  Then, in a businesslike
manner, he returned to the windows and closed them, the eyes of
the two women following him all the time.  Satisfied, apparently,
with his precautions, he turned towards them just as an expression
of indignant enquiry broke from Philippa's lips.  Helen sprang to
her feet, and Philippa gripped the sides of her chair.  The newcomer
advanced a few steps nearer to them.



CHAPTER III


It seemed to the two women, brief though the period of actual
silence was, that in those few seconds they jointly conceived
definite and lasting impressions of the man who was to become,
during the next few weeks, an object of the deepest concern to
both of them.  The intruder was slightly built, of little more than
medium height, of dark complexion, with an almost imperceptible
moustache of military pattern, black hair dishevelled with the
wind, and eyes of almost peculiar brightness.  He carried himself
with an assurance which was somewhat remarkable considering the
condition of his torn and mud stained clothes, the very quality
of which was almost undistinguishable.  They both, curiously enough,
formed the same instinctive conviction that, notwithstanding his
tramplike appearance and his burglarious entrance, this was not a
person to be greatly feared.

The stranger brushed aside Philippa's incoherent exclamation and
opened the conversation with some ceremony.

"Ladies," he began, with a low bow, "in the first place let me
offer my most profound apologies for this unusual form of entrance
to your house."

Philippa rose from her easy-chair and confronted him.  The firelight
played upon her red-gold hair, and surprise had driven the weariness
from her face.  Against the black oak of the chimneypiece she had
almost the appearance of a framed cameo.  Her voice was quite steady,
although its inflection betrayed some indignation.

"Will you kindly explain who you are and what you mean by this
extraordinary behaviour?" she demanded.

"It is my earnest intention to do so without delay," he assured her,
his eyes apparently rivetted upon Philippa.  "Kindly pardon me."

He held out his arm to stop Helen, who, with her eye upon the bell,
had made a stealthy attempt to slip past him.  Her eyes flashed as
she felt his fingers upon her arm.

"How dare you attempt to stop me!" she exclaimed.

"My dear Miss Fairclough," he remonstrated, "in the interests of all
of us, it is better that we should have a few moments of undisturbed
conversation.  I am taking it for granted that I have the pleasure
of addressing Miss Fairclough?"

There was something about the man's easy confidence which was, in
its way, impressive yet irritating.  Helen appeared bereft of words
and retreated to her place almost mildly.  Philippa's very delicate
eyebrows were drawn together in a slight frown.

"You are acquainted with our names, then?"

"Perfectly," was the suave reply.  "You, I presume, are Lady Cranston?
I may be permitted to add," he went on, looking at her steadfastly,
"that the description from which I recognise you does you less than
justice."

"I find that remark, under the circumstances, impertinent," Philippa
told him coldly.

He shrugged his shoulders.  There was a slight smile upon his lips
and his eyes twinkled.

"Alas!" he murmured, "for the moment I forgot the somewhat unusual
circumstances of our meeting.  Permit me to offer you what I trust
you will accept as the equivalent of a letter of introduction."

"A letter of introduction," Philippa repeated, glancing at his
disordered clothes, "and you come in through the window!"

"Believe me," the intruder assured her, "it was the only way."

"Perhaps you will tell me, then," Philippa demanded, her anger
gradually giving way to bewilderment, "what is wrong with my front
door?"

"For all I know, dear lady," the newcomer confessed, "yours may be
an excellent front door.  I would ask you, however, to consider my
appearance I have been obliged to conclude the last few miles of
my journey in somewhat ignominious fashion.  My clothes--they were
quite nice clothes, too, when I started," he added, looking down at
himself ruefully--"have suffered.  And, as you perceive, I have
lost my hat."

"Your hat?" Helen exclaimed, with a sudden glance at Nora's trophy.

"Precisely!  I might have posed before your butler, perhaps, as
belonging to what you call the hatless brigade, but the mud upon
my clothes, and these unfortunate rents in my garments, would have
necessitated an explanation which I thought better avoided.  I make
myself quite clear, I trust?"

"Clear?" Philippa murmured helplessly.

"Clear?" Helen echoed, with a puzzled frown.

"I mean, of course," their visitor explained, "so far as regards my
choosing this somewhat surreptitious form of entrance into your
house."

Philippa shrugged her shoulders and made a determined move towards
the bell.  The intruder, however, barred her way.  She looked up
into his face and found it difficult to maintain her indignation.
His expression, besides being distinctly pleasant, was full of a
respectful admiration.

"Will you please let me pass?" she insisted.

"Madam," he replied, "I am afraid that it is your intention to ring
the bell."

"Of course it is," she admitted.  "Don't dare to prevent me."

"Madam, I do not wish to prevent you," he assured her.  "A few
moments' delay--that is all I plead for."

"Will you explain at once, sir," Philippa demanded, "what you mean
by forcing your way into my house in this extraordinary fashion, and
by locking that door?"

"I am most anxious to do so," was the prompt reply.  "I am correct,
of course, in my first surmise that you are Lady Cranston--and you
Miss Fairclough?" he added, bowing ceremoniously to both of them.
"A very great pleasure!  I recognised you both quite easily, you see,
from your descriptions."

"From our descriptions?" Philippa repeated.

The newcomer bowed.

"The descriptions, glowing, indeed, but by no means exaggerated,
of your brother Richard, Lady Cranston, and your fiancé, Miss
Fairclough."

"Richard?" Philippa almost shrieked.

"You have seen Dick?" Helen gasped.

The intruder dived in his pockets and produced two sealed envelopes.
He handed one each simultaneously to Helen and to Philippa.

"My letters of introduction," he explained, with a little sigh of
relief.  "I trust that during their perusal you will invite me to
have some tea.  I am almost starving."

The two women hastened towards the lamp.

"One moment, I beg," their visitor interposed.  "I have established,
I trust, my credentials.  May I remind you that I was compelled to
ensure the safety of these few minutes' conversation with you, by
locking that door.  Are you likely to be disturbed?"

"No, no!  No chance at all," Philippa assured him.

"If we are, we'll explain," Helen promised.

"In that case," the intruder begged, "perhaps you will excuse me."

He moved towards the door and softly turned the key, then he drew
the curtains carefully across the French windows.  Afterwards he
made his way towards the tea-table.  A little throbbing cry had
broken from Helen's lips.

"Philippa," she exclaimed, "it's from Dick!  It's Dick's handwriting!"

Philippa's reply was incoherent.  She was tearing open her own
envelope.  With a well-satisfied smile, the bearer of these
communications seized a sandwich in one hand and poured himself out
some tea with the other.  He ate and drank with the restraint of
good-breeding, but with a voracity which gave point to his plea of
starvation.  A few yards away, the breathless silence between the
two women had given place to an almost hysterical series of
disjointed exclamations.

"It's from Dick!" Helen repeated.  "It's his own dear handwriting.
How shaky it is!  He's alive and well, Philippa, and he's found a
friend."

"I know--I know," Philippa murmured tremulously.  "Our parcels have
been discovered, and he got them all at once.  Just fancy, Helen,
he's really not so ill, after all!"

They drew a little closer together.

"You read yours out first," Helen proposed, "and then I'll read mine."

Philippa nodded.  Her voice here and there was a little uncertain.

  MY DEAREST SISTER,

  I have heard nothing from you or Helen for so long that I was
  really getting desperate.  I have had a very rough time here,
  but by the grace of Providence I stumbled up against an old
  friend the other day, Bertram Maderstrom, whom you must have
  heard me speak of in my college days.  It isn't too much to say
  that he has saved my life.  He has unearthed your parcels, found
  me decent quarters, and I am getting double rations.  He has
  promised, too, to get this letter through to you.

  You needn't worry about me now, dear.  I am feeling twice the
  man I was a month ago, and I shall stick it out now quite easily.

  Write me as often as ever you can.  Your letters and Helen's make
  all the difference.

  My love to you and to Henry.
                                 Your affectionate brother, RICHARD.

  P.S.  Is Henry an Admiral yet?  I suppose he was in the Jutland
  scrap, which they all tell us here was a great German victory.  I
  hope he came out all right.

Philippa read the postscript with a little shiver. Then she set her
teeth as though determined to ignore it.

"Isn't it wonderful!" she exclaimed, turning towards Helen with
glowing eyes.  "Now yours, dear?"

Helen's voice trembled as she read.  Her eyes, too, at times were
misty:

  DEAREST,

  I am writing to you so differently because I feel that you will
  really get this letter.  I have bad an astonishing stroke of luck,
  as you will gather from Philippa's note.  You can't imagine the
  difference.  A month ago I really thought I should have to chuck
  it in.  Now I am putting on flesh every day and beginning to feel
  myself again.  I owe my life to a pal with whom I was at college,
  and whom you and I, dearest, will have to remember all our lives.

  I think of you always, and my thoughts are like the flowers of
  which we see nothing in these hideous huts.  My greatest joy is
  in dreaming of the day when we shall meet again.

  Write to me often, sweetheart.  Your letters and my thoughts of
  you are the one joy of my life.

                                               Always your lover,
                                                       DICK.

There were a few moments of significant silence.  The girls were
leaning together, their arms around one another's necks, their heads
almost touching.  Behind them, their visitor continued to eat and
drink.  He rose at last, however, reluctantly to his feet, and
coughed.  They started, suddenly remembering his presence.  Philippa
turned impulsively towards him with outstretched hands.

"I can't tell you how thankful we are to you," she declared.

"Both of us," Helen echoed.

He touched with his fingers a box of cigarettes which stood upon the
tea-table.

"You permit?" he asked.

"Of course," Philippa assented eagerly.  "You will find some matches
on the tray there.  Do please help yourself.  I am afraid that I
must have seemed very discourteous, but this has all been so amazing.
Won't you have some fresh tea and some toast, or wouldn't you like
some more sandwiches?"

"Nothing more at present, thank you," he replied.  "If you do not
mind, I would rather continue our conversation."

"These letters are wonderful," Philippa told him gratefully.  "You
know from whom they come, of course.  Dick is my twin brother, and
until the war we had scarcely ever been parted.  Miss Fairclough
here is engaged to be married to him.  It is quite two months since
we had a line, and I myself have been in London for the last three
days, three very weary days, making enquiries everywhere."

"I am very happy," he said, "to have brought you such good news."

Once more the normal aspect of the situation began to reimpose
itself upon the two women.  They remembered the locked door, the
secrecy of their visitor's entrance, and his disordered condition.

"May I ask to whom we are indebted for this great service?" Philippa
enquired.

"My name for the present is Hamar Lessingham," was the suave reply.

"For the present?" Philippa repeated.  "You have perhaps, some
explanations to make," she went on, with some hesitation; "the
condition of your clothes, your somewhat curious form of entrance?"

"With your permission."

"One moment," Helen intervened eagerly.  "Is it possible, Mr.
Lessingham, that you have seen Major Felstead lately?"

"A matter of fifty-six hours ago, Miss Fairclough.  I am happy to
tell you that he was looking, under the circumstances, quite
reasonably well."

Helen caught up a photograph from the table by her side, and came
over to their visitor's side.

"This was taken just before he went out the first time," she
continued.  "Is he anything like that now?"

Mr. Hamar Lessingham sighed and shook his head.

"You must expect," he warned her, "that prison and hospital have
had their effect upon him.  He was gaining strength every day,
however, when I left."

Philippa held out her hand.  She had been looking curiously at
their visitor.

"Helen, dear, afterwards we will get Mr. Lessingham to talk to us
about Dick," she insisted.  "First there are some questions which
I must ask."

He bowed slightly and drew himself up.  For a moment it seemed as
though they were entering upon a duel--the slight, beautiful woman
and the man in rags.

"Just now," she began, "you told us that you saw Major Felstead, my
brother, fifty-six hours ago."

"That is so," he assented.

"But it is impossible!" she pointed out.  "My brother is a prisoner
of war in Germany."

"Precisely," he replied, "and not, I am afraid, under the happiest
conditions, he has been unfortunate in his camp.  Let us talk about
him, shall we?"

"Are you mad," Helen demanded, "or are you trying to confuse us?"

"My dear young lady!" he protested.  "Why suppose such a thing?  I
was flattering myself that my conversation and deportment were,
under the circumstances, perfectly rational."

"But you are talking nonsense," Philippa insisted.  "You say that
you saw Major Felstead fifty-six hours ago.  You cannot mean us to
believe that fifty-six hours ago you were at Wittenberg."

"That is precisely what I have been trying to tell you," he agreed.

"But it isn't possible!" Helen gasped.

"Quite, I assure you," he continued; "in fact, we should have been
here before but for a little uncertainty as to your armaments along
the coast.  There was a gun, we were told, somewhere near here,
which we were credibly informed had once been fired without the
slightest accident."

Philippa's eyes seemed to grow larger and rounder.

"He's raving!" she decided.

"He isn't!" Helen cried, with sudden divination.  "Is that your hat?"
she asked, pointing to the table where Nora had left her trophy.

"It is," he admitted with a smile, "but I do not think that I will
claim it."

"You were in the observation car of that Zeppelin!"

Lessingham extended his hand.

"Softly, please," he begged.  "You have, I gather, arrived at the
truth, but for the moment shall it be our secret?  I made an
exceedingly uncomfortable, not to say undignified descent from the
Zeppelin which passed over Dutchman's Common last night."

"Then," Philippa cried, "you are a German!"

"My dear lady, I have escaped that misfortune," Lessingham
confessed.  "Do you think that none other than Germans ride in
Zeppelins?"



CHAPTER IV


A new tenseness seemed to have crept into the situation.  The
conversation, never without its emotional tendencies, at once
changed its character.  Philippa, cold and reserved, with a threat
lurking all the time in her tone and manner, became its guiding
spirit.

"We may enquire your name?" she asked.

"I am the Baron Maderstrom," was the prompt reply.  "For the purpose
of my brief residence in this country, however, I fancy that the
name of Mr. Hamar Lessingham might provoke less comment."

"Maderstrom," Philippa repeated.  "You were at Magdalen with my
brother."

"For three terms," he assented.

"You have visited at Wood Norton.  It was only an accident, then,
that I did not meet you."

"It is true," he answered, with a bow.  "I received the most charming
hospitality there from your father and mother."

"Why, you are the friend," Helen exclaimed, suddenly seizing his
hands, "of whom Dick speaks in his letter!"

"It has been my great privilege to have been of service to Major
Felstead," was the grave admission.  "He and I, during our college
days, were more than ordinarily intimate.  I saw his name in one of
the lists of prisoners, and I went at once to Wittenberg."

A fresh flood of questions was upon Helen's lips, but Philippa
brushed her away.

"Please let me speak," she said.  "You have brought us these letters
from Richard, for which we offer you our heartfelt thanks, but you
did not risk your liberty, perhaps your life, to come here simply
as his ambassador.  There is something beyond this in your visit to
this country.  You may be a Swede, but is it not true that at the
present moment you are in the service of an enemy?"

Lessingham bowed acquiescence.

"You are entirely right," he murmured.

"Am I also right in concluding that you have some service to ask
of us?"

"Your directness, dear lady, moves me to admiration," Lessingham
assured her.  "I am here to ask a trifling favour in return for
those which I have rendered and those which I may yet render to your
brother."

"And that favour?"

Their visitor looked down at his torn attire.

"A suit of your brother's clothes," he replied, "and a room in which
to change.  The disposal of these rags I may leave, I presume, to
your ingenuity."

"Anything else?"

"It is my wish," he continued, "to remain in this neighbourhood for
a short time--perhaps a fortnight and perhaps a month.  I should
value your introduction to the hotel here, and the extension of
such hospitality as may seem fitting to you, under the circumstances."

"As Mr. Hamar Lessingham?"

"Beyond a doubt."

There was a moment's silence.  Philippa's face had become almost
stony.  She took a step towards the telephone.  Lessingham, however,
held out his hand.

"Your purpose?" he enquired.

"I am going to ring up the Commandant here," she told him, "and
explain your presence in this house."

"An heroic impulse," he observed, "but too impulsive."

"We shall see," she retorted.  "Will you let me pass?"

His fingers restrained her as gently as possible.

"Let me make a reasonable appeal to both of you," he suggested.
"I am here at your mercy.  I promise you that under no circumstances
will I attempt any measure of violence.  From any fear of that, I
trust my name and my friendship with your brother will be sufficient
guarantee."

"Continue, then," Philippa assented.

"You will give me ten minutes in which to state my case," he begged.

"We must!" Helen exclaimed.  "We must, Philippa!  Please!"

"You shall have your ten minutes," Philippa conceded.

He abandoned his attitude of watchfulness and moved back on to the
hearth-rug, his hands behind him.  He addressed himself to Philippa.
It was Philippa who had become his judge.

"I will claim nothing from you," he began, "for the services which
I have rendered to Richard.  Our friendship was a real thing, and,
finding him in such straits, I would gladly, under any circumstances,
have done all that I have done.  I am well paid for this by the
thanks which you have already proffered me."

"No thanks--nothing that we could do for you would be sufficient
recompense," Helen declared energetically.

"Let me speak for a moment of the future," he continued.  "Supposing
you ring that telephone and hand me over to the authorities here?
Well, that will be the end of me, without a doubt.  You will have
done what seemed to you to be the right thing, and I hope that that
consciousness will sustain you, for, believe me, though it may not
be at my will, your brother's life will most certainly answer for
mine."

There was a slight pause.  A sob broke from Helen's throat.  Even
Philippa's lip quivered.

"Forgive me," he went on, "if that sounds like a threat.  It was not
so meant.  It is the simple truth.  Let me hurry on to the future.
I ask so little of you.  It is my duty to live in this spot for one
month.  What harm can I do?  You have no great concentration of
soldiers here, no docks, no fortifications, no industry.  And in
return for the slight service of allowing me to remain here
unmolested, I pledge my word that Richard shall be set at liberty
and shall be here with you within two months."

Helen's face was transformed, her eyes glowed, her lips were parted
with eagerness.  She turned towards Philippa, her expression, her
whole attitude an epitome of eloquent pleading.

"Philippa, you will not hesitate?  You cannot?"

"I must," Philippa answered, struggling with her agitation.  "I love
Dick more dearly than anything else on earth, but just now, Helen,
we have to remember, before everything, that we are English women.
We have to put our human feelings behind us.  We are learning every
day to make sacrifices.  You, too, must learn, dear.  My answer to
you, Baron Maderstrom--or Mr. Lessingham, as you choose to call
yourself--is no."

"Philippa, you are mad!" Helen exclaimed passionately.  "Didn't I
have to realise all that you say when I let Dick go, cheerfully,
the day after we were engaged?  Haven't I realised the duty of
cheerfulness and sacrifice through all these weary months?  But
there is a limit to these things, Philippa, a sense of proportion
which must be taken into account.  It's Dick's life which is in
the balance against some intangible thing, nothing that we could
ever reproach ourselves with, nothing that could bring real harm
upon any one.  Oh, I love my country, too, but I want Dick!  I
should feel like his murderess all my life, if I didn't consent!"

"It occurs to me," Lessingham remarked, turning towards Philippa,
"that Miss Fairclough's point of view is one to be considered."

"Doesn't all that Miss Fairclough has said apply to me?" Philippa
demanded, with a little break in her voice.  "Richard is my twin
brother, he is the dearest thing in life to me.  Can't you realise,
though, that what you ask of us is treason?"

"It really doesn't amount to that," Lessingham assured her.  "In my
own heart I feel convinced that I have come here on a fool's errand.
No object that I could possibly attain in this neighbourhood is
worth the life of a man like Richard Felstead."

"Oh, he's right!" Helen exclaimed.  "Think, Philippa!  What is there
here which the whole world might not know?  There are no secrets in
Dreymarsh.  We are miles away from everywhere.  For my sake,
Philippa, I implore you not to be unreasonable."

"In plain words," Lessingham intervened, "do not be quixotic, Lady
Cranston.  There is just an idea on one side, your brother's life
on the other.  You see, the scales do not balance."

"Can't you realise, though," Philippa answered, "what that idea
means?  It is part of one's soul that one gives when one departs
from a principle."

"What are principles against love?" Helen demanded, almost fiercely.
"A sister may prate about them, Philippa.  A wife couldn't.  I'd
sacrifice every principle I ever had, every scrap of self-respect,
myself and all that belongs to me, to save Dick's life!"

There was a brief, throbbing silence.  Helen was feverishly clutching
Philippa's hand.  Lessingham's eyes were fixed upon the tortured face
into which he gazed.  There were no women like this in his own
country.

"Dear lady," he said, and for the first time his own voice shook,
"I abandon my arguments.  I beg you to act as you think best for
your own future happiness.  The chances of life or death are not
great things for either men like your brother or for me.  I would
not purchase my end, nor he his life, at the expense of your
suffering.  You see, I stand on one side.  The telephone is there
for your use."

"You shan't use it!" Helen cried passionately.  "Phillipa, you
shan't!"

Philippa turned towards her, and all the stubborn pride had gone
out of her face.  Her great eyes were misty with tears, her mouth
was twitching with emotion.  She threw her arms around Helen's neck.

"My dear, I can't!  I can't!" she sobbed.



CHAPTER V


Philippa's breakdown was only momentary.  With a few brusque words
she brought the other two down to the level of her newly recovered
equanimity.

"To be practical," she began, "we have no time to lose.  I will go
and get a suit of Dick's clothes, and, Helen, you had better take
Mr. Lessingham into the gun room.  Afterwards, perhaps you will have
time to ring up the hotel."

Lessingham took a quick step towards her,--almost as though he were
about to make some impetuous withdrawal.  Philippa turned and met his
almost pleading gaze.  Perhaps she read there his instinct of
self-abnegation.

"I am in command of the situation," she continued, a little more
lightly.  "Every one must please obey me.  I shan't be more than
five minutes."

She left the room, waving back Lessingham's attempt to open the
door for her.  He stood for a moment looking at the place where
she had vanished.  Then he turned round.

"Major Felstead's description," he said quietly, "did not do his
sister justice."

"Philippa is a dear," Helen declared enthusiastically.  "Just for
a moment, though, I was terrified.  She has a wonderful will."

"How long has she been married?"

"About six years."

"Are there--any children?"

Helen shook her head.

"Sir Henry had a daughter by his first wife, who lives with us."

"Six years!" Lessingham repeated.  "Why, she seems no more than a
child.  Sir Henry must be a great deal her senior."

"Sixteen years," Helen told him.  "Philippa is twenty-nine.  And now,
don't be inquisitive any more, please, and come with me.  I want to
show you where to change your clothes."

She opened a door on the other side of the room, and pointed to a
small apartment across the passage.

"If you'll wait in there," she begged, "I'll bring the clothes to
you directly they come.  I am going to telephone now."

"So many thanks," he answered.  "I should like a pleasant bedroom
and sitting room, and a bathroom if possible.  My luggage you will
find already there.  A friend in London has seen to that."

She looked at him curiously.

"You are very thorough, aren't you?" she remarked.

"The people of the country whom it is my destiny to serve all are,"
he replied.  "One weak link, you know, may sometimes spoil the
mightiest chain."

She closed the door and took up the telephone.

"Number three, please," she began.  "Are you the hotel?  The manager?
Good!  I am speaking for Lady Cranston.  She wishes a sitting-room,
bedroom and bath-room reserved for a friend of ours who is arriving
to-day--a Mr. Hamar Lessingham.  You have his luggage already, I
believe.  Please do the best you can for him.--Certainly.--Thank
you very much."

She set down the receiver.  The door was quickly opened and shut.
Philippa reappeared, carrying an armful of clothes.

"Why, you've brought his grey suit," Helen cried in dismay, "the
one he looks so well in!"

"Don't be an idiot," Philippa scoffed.  "I had to bring the first
I could find.  Take them in to Mr. Lessingham, and for heaven's
sake see that he hurries!  Henry's train is due, and he may be here
at any moment."

"I'll tell him," Helen promised.  "I'll smuggle him out of the back
way, if you like."

Philippa laughed a little drearily.

"A nice start that would be, if any one ever traced his arrival!"
she observed.  "No, we must try and get him away before Henry comes,
but, if the worst comes to the worst, we'll have him in and
introduce him.  Henry isn't likely to notice anything," she added,
a little bitterly.

Helen disappeared with the clothes and returned almost immediately,
Philippa was sitting in her old position by the fire.

"You're not worrying about this, dear, are you?" the former asked
anxiously.

"I don't know," Philippa replied, without turning her head.  "I don't
know what may come of it, Helen.  I have a queer sort of feeling
about that man."

Helen sighed.  "I suppose," she confessed, "I am the narrowest
person on earth.  I can think of one thing, and one thing only.
If Mr. Lessingham keeps his word, Dick will be here perhaps in a
month, perhaps six weeks--certainly soon!"

"He will keep his word," Philippa said quietly.  "He is that sort
of man."

The door on the other side of the room was softly opened.
Lessingham's head appeared.

"Could I have a necktie?" he asked diffidently.  Philippa stretched
out her hand and took one from the basket by her side.

"Better give him this," she said, handing it over to Helen.  "It is
one of Henry's which I was mending.--Stop!"

She put up her finger.  They all listened.

"The car!" Philippa exclaimed, rising hastily to her feet.  "That
is Henry!  Go out with Mr. Lessingham, Helen," she continued, "and
wait until he is ready.  Don't forget that he is an ordinary caller,
and bring him in presently."

Helen nodded understandingly and hurried out.

Philippa moved a few steps towards the other door.  In a moment it
was thrown open.  Nora appeared, with her arm through her father's.

"I went to meet him, Mummy," she explained.  "No uniform--isn't it
a shame!"

Sir Henry patted her cheek and turned to greet his wife.  There was
a shadow upon his bronzed, handsome face as he watched her rather
hesitating approach.

"Sorry I couldn't catch your train, Phil," he told her.  "I had to
make a call in the city so I came down from Liverpool Street.  Any
luck?"

She held his hands, resisting for the moment his proffered embrace.

"Henry," she said earnestly, "do you know I am so much more anxious
to hear your news."

"Mine will keep," he replied.  "What about Richard?"

She shook her head.

"I spent the whole of my time making enquiries," she sighed, "and
every one was fruitless.  I failed to get the least satisfaction
from any one at the War Office.  They know nothing, have heard
nothing."

"I'm ever so sorry to hear it," Sir Henry declared sympathetically.
"You mustn't worry too much, though, dear.  Where's Helen?"

"She is in the gun room with a caller."

"With a caller?" Nora exclaimed.  "Is it any one from the Depot?
I must go and see."

"You needn't trouble," her stepmother replied.  "Here they are,
coming in."

The door on the opposite side of the room was suddenly opened, and
Hamar Lessingham and Helen entered together.  Lessingham was
entirely at his ease,--their conversation, indeed, seemed almost
engrossing.  He came at once across the room on realising Sir
Henry's presence.

"This is Mr. Hamar Lessingham--my husband," Philippa said.  "Mr.
Lessingham was at college with Dick, Henry, so of course Helen and
he have been indulging in all sorts of reminiscences."

The two men shook hands.

"I found time also to examine your Leech prints," Lessingham remarked.
"You have some very admirable examples."

"Quite a hobby of mine in my younger days," Sir Henry admitted.
"One or two of them are very good, I believe.  Are you staying in
these parts long, Mr. Lessingham?"

"Perhaps for a week or two," was the somewhat indifferent reply.
"I am told that this is the most wonderful air in the world, so I
have come down here to pull up again after a slight illness."

"A dreary spot just now," Sir Henry observed, "but the air's all
right.  Are you a sea-fisherman, by any chance, Mr. Lessingham?"

"I have done a little of it," the visitor confessed.  Sir Henry's
face lit up.  He drew from his pocket a small, brown paper parcel.

"I don't mind telling you," he confided as he cut the string, "that
I don't think there's another sport like it in the world.  I have
tried most of them, too.  When I was a boy I was all for shooting,
perhaps because I could never get enough.  Then I had a season or
two at Melton, though I was never much of a horseman.  But for real,
unadulterated excitement, for sport that licks everything else into
a cocked hat, give me a strong sea rod, a couple of traces, just
enough sea to keep on the bottom all the time, and the codling
biting.  Look here, did you ever see a mackerel spinner like that?"
he added, drawing one out of the parcel which he had untied.  "Look
at it, all of you."

Lessingham took it gingerly in his fingers.  Philippa, a little
ostentatiously, turned her back upon the two men and took up a
newspaper.

"Lady Cranston does not sympathize with my interest in any sort of
sport just now," Sir Henry explained good-humouredly.  "All the
same I argue that one must keep one's mind occupied somehow or
other."

"Quite right, Dad!" Nora agreed.  "We must carry on, as the Colonel
says.  All the same, I did hope you'd come down in a new naval
uniform, with lots of gold braid on your sleeve.  I think they might
have made you an admiral, Daddy, you'd look so nice on the bridge."

"I am afraid," her father replied, with his eyes glued upon the
spinner which Lessingham was holding, "that that is a consideration
which didn't seem to weigh with them much.  Look at the glitter of
it," he went on, taking up another of the spinners.  "You see, it's
got a double swivel, and they guarantee six hundred revolutions a
minute."

"I must plead ignorance," Lessingham regretted, "of everything
connected with mackerel spinning."

"It's fine sport for a change," Sir Henry declared.  "The only thing
is that if you strike a shoal one gets tired of hauling the beggars
in.  By-the-by, has Jimmy been up for me, Philippa?  Have you heard
whether there are any mackerel in?"

Philippa raised her eyebrows.

"Mackerel!" she repeated sarcastically.

"Have you any objection to the fish, dear?" Sir Henry enquired
blandly.

Philippa made no reply.  Her husband frowned and turned towards
Lessingham.

"You see," he complained a little irritably, "my wife doesn't approve
of my taking an interest even in fishing while the war's on, but,
hang it all, what are you to do when you reach my age?  Thinks I
ought to be a special constable, don't you, Philippa?"

"Need we discuss this before Mr. Lessingham?" she asked, without
looking up from her paper.

Lessingham promptly prepared to take his departure.

"See something more of you, I hope," Sir Henry remarked hospitably,
as he conducted his guest to the door.  "Where are you staying
here?"

"At the hotel."

"Which?"

"I did not understand that there was more than one," Lessingham
replied.  "I simply wrote to The Hotel, Dreymarsh."

"There is only one hotel open, of course, Mr. Lessingham," Philippa
observed, turning towards him.  "Why do you ask such an absurd
question, Henry?  The 'Grand' is full of soldiers.  Come and see
us whenever you feel inclined, Mr. Lessingham."

"I shall certainly take advantage of your permission, Lady Cranston,"
were the farewell words of this unusual visitor as he bowed himself
out.

Sir Henry moved to the sideboard and helped himself to a whisky and
soda.  Philippa laid down her newspaper and watched him as though
waiting patiently for his return.  Helen and Nora had already
obeyed the summons of the dressing bell.

"Henry, I want to hear your news," she insisted.  He threw himself
into an easy-chair and turned over the contents of Philippa's
workbasket.

"Where's that tie of mine you were mending?" he asked.  "Is it
finished yet?"

"It is upstairs somewhere," she replied.  "No, I have not finished
it.  Why do you ask?  You have plenty, haven't you?"

"Drawers full," he admitted cheerfully.  "Half of them I can never
wear, though.  I like that black and white fellow.  Your friend
Lessingham was wearing one exactly like it."

"It isn't exactly an uncommon pattern," Philippa reminded him.

"Seems to have the family taste in clothes," Sir Henry continued,
stroking his chin.  "That grey tweed suit of his was exactly the
same pattern as the suit Richard was wearing, the last time I saw
him in mufti."

"They probably go to the same tailor," Philippa remarked equably.

Sir Henry abandoned the subject.  He was once more engrossed in an
examination of the mackerel spinners.

"You didn't answer my question about Jimmy Dumble," he ventured
presently.

Philippa turned and looked at him.  Her eyes were usually very
sweet and soft and her mouth delightful.  Just at that moment,
however, there were new and very firm lines in her face.

"Henry," she said sternly, "you are purposely fencing with me.
Mr. Lessingham's taste in clothes, or Jimmy Dumble's comings and
goings, are not what I want to hear or talk about.  You went to
London, unwillingly enough, to keep your promise to me.  I want to
know whether you have succeeded in getting anything from the
Admiralty?"

"Nothing but the cold shoulder, my dear," he answered with a little
chuckle.

"Do you mean to say that they offered you nothing at all?" she
persisted.  "You may have been out of the service too long for
them to start you with a modern ship, but surely they could have
given you an auxiliary cruiser, or a secondary command of some sort?"

"They didn't even offer me a washtub, dear," he confessed.  "My
name's on a list, they said--"

"Oh, that list!" Philippa interrupted angrily.  "Henry, I really
can't bear it.  Couldn't they find you anything on land?"

"My dear girl," he replied a little testily, "what sort of a figure
should I cut in an office!  No one can read my writing, and I
couldn't add up a column of figures to save my life.  What is it?"
he added, as the door opened, and Mills made his appearance.

"Dumble is here to see you, sir."

"Show him in at once," his master directed with alacrity.  "Come
in, Jimmy," he went on, raising his voice.  "I've got something
to show you here."

Philippa's lips were drawn a little closer together.  She swept past
her husband on her way to the door.

"I hope you will be so good," she said, looking back, "as to spare
me half an hour of your valuable time this evening.  This is a
subject which I must discuss with you further at once."

"As urgent as all that, eh?" Sir Henry replied, stopping to light
a cigarette.  "Righto!  You can have the whole of my evening, dear,
with the greatest of pleasure.--Now then, Jimmy!"



CHAPTER VI


Jimmy Dumble possessed a very red face and an extraordinary capacity
for silence.  He stood a yard or two inside the room, twirling his
hat in his hand.  Sir Henry, after the closing of the door, did
not for a moment address his visitor.  There was a subtle but
unmistakable change in his appearance as he stood with his hands in
his pockets, and a frown on his forehead, whistling softly to
himself, his eyes fixed upon the door through which his wife had
vanished.  He swung round at last towards the telephone.

"Stand by for a moment, Jimmy, will you?" he directed.

"Aye, aye, sir!"

Sir Henry took up the receiver.  He dropped his voice a little,
although it was none the less distinct.

"Number one--police-station, please.--Hullo there!  The inspector
about?--That you, Inspector?--Sir Henry Cranston speaking.  Could
you just step round?--Good!  Tell them to show you straight into
the library.  You might just drop a hint to Mills about the lights,
eh?  Thank you."

He laid down the receiver and turned towards the fisherman.

"Well, Jimmy," he enquired, "all serene down in the village, eh?"

"So far as I've seen or heard, sir, there ain't been a word spoke
as shouldn't be."

"A lazy lot they are," Sir Henry observed.

"They don't look far beyond the end of their noses."

"Maybe it's as well for us, sir, as they don't," was the cautious
reply.

Sir Henry strolled to the further end of the room.

"Perhaps you are right, Jimmy," he admitted.

"That fellow Ben Oates seems to be the only one with
ideas."

"He don't keep sober long enough to give us any trouble," Dumble
declared.  "He began asking me questions a few days ago, and I know
he put Grice's lad on to find out which way we went last Saturday
week, but that don't amount to anything.  He was dead drunk for
three days afterwards."

Sir Henry nodded.

"I'm not very frightened of Ben Oates, Jimmy," he confided, as he
threw open the door of a large cabinet which stood against the
further wall.  "No strangers about, eh?"

"Not a sign of one, sir."

Sir Henry glanced towards the door and listened.

"Shall I just give the key a turn, sir?" his visitor asked.

"I don't think it is necessary," Sir Henry replied.  "They've all
gone up to change.  Now listen to me, Jimmy."

He leaned forward and touched a spring.  The false back of the
cabinet, with its little array of flies, spinners, fishing hooks
and tackle, slowly rolled back.  Before them stood a huge chart,
wonderfully executed in red, white and yellow.

"That's a marvellous piece of work, sir," the fisherman observed
admiringly.

"Best thing I ever did in my life," Sir Henry agreed.  "Now see
here, Jimmy.  We'll sail out tomorrow, or take the motor boat,
according to the wind.  We'll enter Langley Shallows there and pass
Dead Man's Rock on the left side of the waterway, and keep straight
on until we get Budden Wood on the church tower.  You follow me?"

"Aye, aye, sir!"

"We make for the headland from there.  You see, we shall be outside
the Gidney Shallows, and number twelve will pick us up.  Put all
the fishing tackle in the boat, and don't forget the bait.  We must
never lose sight of the fact, Jimmy, that the main object of our
lives is to catch fish."

"That's right, sir," was the hearty assent.

"We'll be off at seven o'clock sharp, then," Sir Henry decided.

"The tide'll be on the flow by that time," Jimmy observed, "and
we'll get off from the staith breakwater.  That do be a fine piece
of work and no mistake," he added, as the false back of the cabinet
glided slowly to its place.

Sir Henry chuckled.

"It's nothing to the one I've got on number twelve, Jimmy," he said.
"I've got the seaweed on that, pretty well.  You'll take a drop of
whisky on your way out?" he added.  "Mills will look after you."

"I thank you kindly, sir."

Mills answered the bell with some concern in his face.

"The inspector is here to see you, sir," he announced.  "He did
mention something about the lights.  I'm sure we've all been most
careful.  Even her ladyship has only used a candle in her bedroom."

"Show the inspector in," Sir Henry directed, "and I'll hear what
he has to say.  And give Dumble some whisky as he goes out, and a
cigar."

"Wishing you good night, sir," the latter said, as he followed
Mills.  "I'll be punctual in the morning.  Looks to me as though
we might have good sport."

"We'll hope for it, anyway, Jimmy," his employer replied cheerfully.
"Come in, Inspector."

The inspector, a tall, broad-shouldered man, saluted and stood at
attention.  Sir Henry nodded affably and glanced towards the door.
He remained silent until Mills and Dumble had disappeared.

"Glad I happened to catch you, Inspector," he observed, sitting
on the edge of the table and helping himself to another cigarette.
"Any fresh arrivals?"

"None, sir," the man reported, "of any consequence that I can see.
There are two more young officers for the Depot, and the young lady
for the Grange, and Mr. and Mrs. Silvester returned home last night.
There was a commercial traveller came in the first train this
morning, but he went on during the afternoon."

"Hm!  What about a Mr. Lessingham--a Mr. Hamar Lessingham?"

"I haven't heard of him, sir."

"Have you had the registration papers down from the hotel yet?"

"Not this evening, sir.  I met the Midland and Great Northern train
in myself.  Her ladyship was the only passenger to alight here."

"And I came the other way myself," Sir Henry reflected.

"Now you come to mention the matter, sir," the inspector continued,
"I was up at the hotel this afternoon, and I saw some luggage about
addressed to a name somewhat similar to that."

"Probably sent on in advance, eh?"

"There could be no other way, sir," the inspector replied, "unless
the registration paper has been mislaid.  I'll step up to the hotel
this evening and make sure."

"You'll oblige me very much, if you will.  By Jove," Sir Henry
added, looking towards the door, "I'd no idea it was so late!"

Philippa, who had changed her travelling dress for a plain black
net gown, was standing in the doorway.  She looked at the inspector,
and for a moment the little colour which she had seemed to disappear.

"Is anything the matter?" she asked breathlessly.

"Nothing in the world, my dear," her husband assured her.  "I am
frightfully sorry I'm so late.  Jimmy stayed some time, and then
the inspector here looked in about our lights.  Just a little
more care in this room at night, he thinks.  We'll see to it,
Inspector."

"I am very much obliged, sir," the man replied.  "Sorry to be under
the necessity of mentioning it."

Sir Henry opened the door.

"You'll find your own way out, won't you?" he begged.  "I'm a
little late."

The inspector saluted and withdrew.  Sir Henry glanced round.

"I won't be ten minutes, Philippa," he promised.  "I had no idea
it was so late."

"Come here one moment, please," she insisted.

He came back into the room and stood on the other side of the small
table near which she had paused.

"What is it, dear?" he enquired.  "We are going to leave our talk
till after dinner, aren't we?"

She looked him in the face.  There was an anxious light in her eyes,
and she was certainly not herself.  "Of course!  I only wanted to
know--it seemed to me that you broke off in what you were saying to
the inspector, as I came into the room.  Are you sure that it was
the lights he came around about?  There isn't anything else wrong,
is there?"

"What else could there be?" he asked wonderingly.

"I have no idea," she replied, with well-simulated indifference.
"I was only asking you whether there was anything else?"

He shook his head.

"Nothing!"

She threw herself into an easy-chair and picked up a magazine.

"Thank you," she said.  "Do hurry, please.  I have a new cook and
she asked particularly whether we were punctual people."

"Six minutes will see me through it," Sir Henry promised, making
for the door.  "Come to think of it, I missed my lunch.  I think
I'll manage it in five."



CHAPTER VII


Sir Henry was in a pleasant and expansive humour that evening.  The
new cook was an unqualified success, and he was conscious of having
dined exceedingly well.  He sat in a comfortable easy-chair before
a blazing wood fire, he had just lit one of his favourite brand of
cigarettes, and his wife, whom he adored, was seated only a few
feet away.

"Quite a remarkable change in Helen," he observed.  "She was in the
depths of depression when I went away, and to-night she seems
positively cheerful."

"Helen varies a great deal," Philippa reminded him.

"Still, to-night, I must say, I should have expected to have found
her more depressed than ever," Sir Henry went on.  "She hoped so
much from your trip to London, and you apparently accomplished 
nothing."

"Nothing at all."

"And you have had no letters?"

"None."

"Then Helen's high spirits, I suppose, are only part of woman's
natural inconsistency.--Philippa, dear!"

"Yes?"

"I am glad to be at home.  I am glad to see you sitting there.  I
know you are nursing up something, some little thunderbolt to launch
at me.  Won't you launch it and let's get it over?"

Philippa laid down the book which she had been reading, and turned
to face her husband.  He made a little grimace.

"Don't look so severe," he begged.  "You frighten me before you
begin."

"I'm sorry," she said, "but my face probably reflects my feelings.
I am hurt and grieved and disappointed in you, Henry."

"That's a good start, anyway," he groaned.

"We have been married six years," Philippa went on, "and I admit at
once that I have been very happy.  Then the war came.  You know
quite well, Henry, that especially at that time I was very, very
fond of you, yet it never occurred to me for a moment but that, like
every other woman, I should have to lose my husband for a time.
--Stop, please," she insisted, as he showed signs of interrupting.
"I know quite well that it was through my persuasions you retired
so early, but in those days there was no thought of war, and I
always had it in my mind that if trouble came you would find your
way back to where you belonged."

"But, my dear child, that is all very well," Sir Henry protested,
"but it's not so easy to get back again.  You know very well that
I went up to the Admiralty and offered my services, directly the
war started."

"Yes, and what happened?" Philippa demanded.  "You were, in a
measure, shelved.  You were put on a list and told that you would
hear from them--a sort of Micawber-like situation with which you
were perfectly satisfied.  Then you took that moor up in Scotland
and disappeared for nearly six months."

"I was supplying the starving population with food," he reminded her
genially.  "We sent about four hundred brace of grouse to market,
not to speak of the salmon.  We had some very fair golf, too, some
of the time."

"Oh, I have not troubled to keep any exact account of your
diversions!" Philippa said scornfully.  "Sometimes," she continued,
"I wonder whether you are quite responsible, Henry.  How you can
even talk of these things when every man of your age and strength
is fighting one way or another for his country, seems marvellous to
me.  Do you realise that we are fighting for our very existence?
Do you realise that my own father, who is fifteen years older than
you, is in the firing line?  This is a small place, of course, but
there isn't a man left in it of your age, with your physique, who
has had the slightest experience in either service, who isn't doing
something."

"I can't do more than send in applications," he grumbled.  "Be
reasonable, my dear Philippa.  It isn't the easiest thing in the
world to find a job for a sailor who has been out of it as long as
I have."

"So you say, but when they ask me what you are doing, as they all
did in London this time, and I reply that you can't get a job, there
is generally a polite little silence.  No one believes it.  I don't
believe it."

"Philippa!"

Sir Henry turned in his chair.  His cigar was burning now idly
between his fingers.  His heavy eyebrows were drawn together.

"Well, I don't," she reiterated.  "You can be angry, if you will
--in fact I think I should prefer you to be angry.  You take no
pains at the Admiralty.  You just go there and come away again,
once a year or something like that.  Why, if I were you, I
wouldn't leave the place until they'd found me something--indoors
or outdoors, what does it matter so long as your hand is on the
wheel and you are doing your little for your country?  But you
--what do you care?  You went to town to get a job--and you come
back with new mackerel spinners!  You are off fishing to-morrow
morning with Jimmy Dumble.  Somewhere up in the North Sea, to-day
and to-morrow and the next day, men are giving their lives for
their country.  What do you care?  You will sit there smoking your
pipe and catching dabs!"

"Do you know you are almost offensive, Philippa?" her husband said
quietly.

"I want to be," she retorted.  "I should like you to feel that I am.
In any case, this will probably be the last conversation I shall
hold with you on the subject."

"Well, thank God for that, anyway!" he observed, strolling to the
chimneypiece and selecting a pipe from a rack.  "I think you've
said about enough."

"I haven't finished," she told him ominously.

"Then for heaven's sake get on with it and let's have it over," he
begged.

"Oh, you're impossible!" Philippa exclaimed bitterly.  "Listen.
I give you one chance more.  Tell me the truth?  Is there anything
in your health of which I do not know?  Is there any possible
explanation of your extraordinary behaviour which, for some reason
or other, you have kept to yourself?  Give me your whole confidence."

Sir Henry, for a moment, was serious enough.  He stood looking down
at her a little wistfully.

"My dear," he told her, "I have nothing to say except this.  You
are my very precious wife.  I have loved you and trusted you since
the day of our marriage.  I am content to go on loving and trusting
you, even though things should come under my notice which I do not
understand.  Can't you accept me the same way?"

Philippa, momentarily uneasy, was nevertheless rebellious.

"Accept you the same way?  How can I!  There is nothing in my life
to compare in any way with the tragedy of your--"

She paused, as though unwilling to finish the sentence.  He waited
patiently, however, for her to proceed.

"Of my what?"

Philippa compromised.

"Lethargy," she pronounced triumphantly.

"An excellent word," he murmured.

"It is too mild a one, but you are my husband," she remarked.

"That reminds me," he said quietly.  "You are my wife."

"I know it," she admitted, "but I am also a woman, and there are
limits to my endurance.  If you can give me no explanation of your
behaviour, Henry, if you really have no intention of changing it,
then there is only one course left open for me."

"That sounds rather alarming--what is it?" he demanded.

Philippa lifted her head a little.  This was the pronouncement
towards which she had been leading.

"From to-day," she declared, "I cease to be your wife."

His fingers paused in the manipulation of the tobacco with which he
was filling his pipe.  He turned and looked at her.

"You what?"

"I cease to be your wife."

"How do you manage that?" he asked.

"Don't jest," she begged.  "It hurts me so.  What I mean is surely
plain enough.  I will continue to live under your roof if you wish
it, or I am perfectly willing to go back to Wood Norton.  I will
continue to bear your name because I must, but the other ties
between us are finished."

"You don't mean this, Philippa," he said gravely.

"But I do mean it," she insisted.  "I mean every word I have spoken.
So far as I am concerned, Henry, this is your last chance."

There was a knock at the door.  Mills entered with a note upon a
salver.  Sir Henry took it up, glanced questioningly at his wife,
and tore open the envelope.

"There will be no answer, Mills," he said.

The man withdrew.  Sir Henry read the few lines thoughtfully:--

                                       Police-station, Dreymarsh
  SIR,

  According to enquiries made I find that Mr. Hamar Lessingham
  arrived at the Hotel this evening in time for dinner.  His
  luggage arrived by rail yesterday.  It is presumed that he came
  by motor-car, but there is no car in the garage, nor any mention
  of one.  His room was taken for him by Miss Fairclough, ringing
  up for Lady Cranston about seven o'clock.

                                           Respectfully yours,
                                              JOHN HAYLOCK.

"Is your note of interest?" Philippa enquired.

"In a sense, yes," he replied, thrusting it into his waistcoat
pocket.  "I presume we can consider our late subject of conversation
finished with?"

"I have nothing more to say," she pronounced.

"Very well, then," her husband agreed, "let us select another topic.
This time, supposing I choose?"

"You are welcome."

"Let us converse, then, about Mr. Hamar Lessingham."

Philippa had taken up her work.  Her fingers ceased their labours,
but she did not look up.

"About Mr. Hamar Lessingham," she repeated.  "Rather a limited
subject, I am afraid."

"I am not so sure," he said thoughtfully.  "For instance, who is he?"

"I have no idea," she replied.  "Does it matter?  He was at college
with Richard, and he has been a visitor at Wood Norton.  That is all
that we know.  Surely it is sufficient for us to offer him any
reasonable hospitality?"

"I am not disputing it," Sir Henry assured her.  "On the face of it,
it seems perfectly reasonable that you should be civil to him.  On
the other hand, there are one or two rather curious points about his
coming here just now."

"Really?" Philippa murmured indifferently, bending a little lower
over her work.

"In the first place," her husband continued, "how did he arrive here?"

"For all I know," she replied, "he may have walked."

"A little unlikely.  Still, he didn't come from London by either of
the evening trains, and it seems that you didn't take his rooms for
him until about seven o'clock, before which time he hadn't been to
the hotel.  So, you see, one is driven to wonder how the mischief
he did get here."

"I took his rooms?" Philippa repeated, with a sudden little catch
at her heart.

"Some one from here rang up, didn't they?" Sir Henry went on
carelessly.  "I gathered that we were introducing him at the hotel."

"Where did you hear that?" she demanded.

He shrugged his shoulders, but avoided answering the question.

"I have no doubt," he continued, "that the whole subject of Mr.
Hamar Lessingham is scarcely worth discussing.  Yet he does seem to
have arrived here under a little halo of coincidence."

"I am afraid I have scarcely appreciated that," Philippa remarked;
"in fact, his coming here has seemed to me the most ordinary thing
in the world.  After all, although one scarcely remembers that since
the war, this is a health resort, and the man has been ill."

"Quite right," Sir Henry agreed.  "You are not going to bed, dear?"

Philippa had folded up her work.  She stood for a moment upon the
hearth-rug.  The little hardness which had tightened her mouth had
disappeared, her eyes had softened.

"May I say just one word more," she begged, "about our previous--our
only serious subject of conversation?  I have tried my best since we
were married, Henry, to make you happy."

"You know quite well," he assured her, "that you have succeeded."

"Grant me one favour, then," she pleaded.  "Give up your fishing
expedition to-morrow, go back to London by the first train and let
me write to Lord Rayton.  I am sure he would do something for you."

"Of course he'd do something!"  Her husband groaned.  "I should get
a censorship in Ireland, or a post as instructor at Portsmouth."

"Wouldn't you rather take either of those than nothing?" she asked,
"than go on living the life you are living now?"

"To be perfectly frank with you, Philippa, I wouldn't," he declared
bluntly.  "What on earth use should I be in a land appointment?  Why,
no one could read my writing, and my nautical science is entirely
out of date.  Why a cadet at Osborne could floor me in no time."

"You refuse to let me write, then?" she persisted.

"Absolutely."

"You intend to go on that fishing expedition with Jimmy Dumble
to-morrow?"

"Wouldn't miss it for anything," he confessed.

Philippa was suddenly white with anger.

"Henry, I've finished," she declared, holding out her hand to keep
him away from her.  "I've finished with you entirely.  I would
rather be married to an enemy who was fighting honourably for his
country than to you.  What I have said, I mean.  Don't come near me.
Don't try to touch me."

She swept past him on her way to the door.

"Not even a good-night kiss?" he asked, stooping down.

She looked him in the eyes.

"I am not a child," she said scornfully.

He closed the door after her.  For a moment he remained as though
undecided whether to follow or not.  His face had softened with
her absence.  Finally, however, he turned away with a little shrug
of the shoulders, threw himself into his easy-chair and began to
smoke furiously.

The telephone bell disturbed his reflection.  He rose at once and
took up the receiver.

"Yes, this is 19, Dreymarsh.  Trunk call?  All right, I am here."

He waited until another voice came to him faintly.

"Cranston?"

"Speaking."

"That's right.  The message is Odino Berry, you understand?
O-d-i-n-o b-e-r-r-y."

"I've got it," Sir Henry replied.  "Good night!"  He hung up the
receiver, crossed the room to his desk, unlocked one of the drawers,
and produced a black memorandum book, secured with a brass lock.
He drew a key from his watch chain, opened the book, and ran his
fingers down the O's.

"Odino," he muttered to himself.  "Here it is: 'We have trustworthy
information from Berlin.'  Now Berry."  He turned back.  "'You are
being watched by an enemy secret service agent.'"

He relocked the cipher book and replaced it in the desk.  Then he
strolled over to his easy-chair and helped himself to a whisky and
soda from the tray which Mills had just arranged upon the sideboard.

"We have trustworthy information from Berlin," he repeated to
himself, "that you are being watched by an enemy secret service
agent."



CHAPTER VIII


"Tell me, Mr. Lessingham," Philippa insisted, "exactly what are you
thinking of?  You looked so dark and mysterious from the ridge below
that I've climbed up on purpose to ask you."

Lessingham held out his hand to steady her.  They were standing on
a sharp spur of the cliffs, the north wind blowing in their faces,
thrashing into little flecks of white foam the sea below, on which
the twilight was already resting.  For a moment or two neither of
them could speak.

"I was thinking of my country," he confessed.  "I was looking
through the shadows there, right across the North Sea."

"To Germany?"

He shook his head.

"Further away--to Sweden."

"I forgot," she murmured.  "You looked as though you were posing for
a statue of some one in exile," she observed.  "Come, let us go a
little lower down--unless you want to stay here and be blown to
pieces."

"I was on my way back to the hotel," he answered quickly, as he
followed her lead, "but to tell you the truth I was feeling a little
lonely."

"That," she declared, "is your own fault.  I asked you to come to
Mainsail Haul whenever you felt inclined."

"As I have felt inclined ever since the evening I arrived," he
remarked with a smile, "you might, perhaps, by this time have had
a little too much of me."

"On the contrary," she told him, "I quite expected you yesterday
afternoon, to tell me how you like the place and what you have been
doing.  So you were thinking about--over there?" she added,
moving her head seawards.

"Over there absorbs a great deal of one's thoughts," he confessed,
"and the rest of them have been playing me queer tricks."

"Well, I should like to hear about the first half," she insisted.

"Do you know," he replied, "there are times when even now this war
seems to me like an unreal thing, like something I have been reading
about, some wild imagining of Shelley or one of the unrestrainable
poets.  I can't believe that millions of the flower of Germany's
manhood and yours have perished helplessly, hopelessly, cruelly.
And France--poor decimated France!"

"Well, Germany started the war, you know," she reminded him.

"Did she?" he answered.  "I sometimes wonder.  Even now I fancy, if
the official papers of every one of the nations lay side by side,
with their own case stated from their own point of view, even you
might feel a little confused about that.  Still, I am going to be
very honest with you.  I think myself that Germany wanted war."

"There you are, then," she declared triumphantly.  "The whole thing
is her responsibility."

"I do not quite go so far as that," he protested.  "You see, the
world is governed by great natural laws.  As a snowball grows larger
with rolling, so it takes up more room.  As a child grows out of its
infant clothes, it needs the vestments of a youth and then a man.
And so with Germany.  She grew and grew until the country could not
hold her children, until her banks could not contain her money,
until she stretched her arms out on every side and felt herself
stifled.  Germany came late into the world and found it parcelled
out, but had she not a right to her place?  She made herself great.
She needed space."

"Well," Philippa observed, "you couldn't suppose that other nations
were going to give up what they had, just because she wanted their
possessions, could you?"

"Perhaps not," he admitted.  "And yet, you see, the immutable law
comes in here.  The stronger must possess--not only the stronger
by arms, mind, but by intellect, by learning, by proficiency in
science, by utilitarianism.  The really cruel part, the part I was
thinking of then, as I looked out across the sea, is that this
crude and miserable resort to arms should be necessary."

"If only Germans themselves were as broad-minded and reasonable as
you," Philippa sighed, "one feels that there might be some hope for
the future!"

"I am not alone," he assured her, "but, you see, all over Germany
there is spread like a spider's web the lay religion of the citizen
--devotion to the Government, blind obedience to the Kaiser.
Independent thought has made Germany great in science, in political
economy, in economics.  But independent thought is never turned
towards her political destinies.  Those are shaped for her.  For
good or for evil her children have learnt obedience."

They were descending the hillside now.  At their feet lay the little
town, black and silent.

"You have helped me to understand a little," Philippa said.  "You
put things so gently and yet so clearly.  Now tell me, will you not,
how it is that you, who are a Swede by birth, are bearing arms for
Germany?"

"That is very simple," he confessed.  "My mother was a German, and
when she died she bequeathed to me large estates in Bavaria, and a
very considerable fortune.  These I could never have inherited
unless I had chosen to do my military service in Germany.  My family
is an impoverished one, and I have brothers and sisters dependent
upon me.  Under the circumstances, hesitation on my part was
impossible."

"But when the war came?" she queried.

He looked at her in surprise.

"What was there left for me then?" he demanded.  "Naturally I heard
nothing but the voice of those whom I had sworn to obey.  I was in
that mad rush through Belgium.  I was wounded at Maubeuge, or else
I should have followed hard on the heels of that wonderful retreat
of yours.  As it was, I lay for many months in hospital.  I joined
again--shall I confess it?--almost unwillingly.  The bloodthirstiness
of it all sickened me.  I fought at Ypres, but I think that it was
something of the courage of despair, of black misery.  I was wounded
again and decorated.  I suppose I shall never be fit for the front
again.  I tried to turn to account some of my knowledge of England
and English life.  Then they sent me here."

"Here, of all places in the world!" Philippa repeated wonderingly.
"Just look at us!  We have a single line of railway, a perfectly
straightforward system of roads, the ordinary number of soldiers
being trained, no mysteries, no industries--nothing.  What terrible
scheme are you at work upon, Mr. Lessingham?"

He smiled.

"Between you and me," he confided, "I am not at all sure that I am
not here on a fool's errand--at least I thought so when I arrived."

She glanced up at him.

"And why not now?"

He made no answer, but their eyes met and Philippa looked hurriedly
away.  There was a moment's queer, strained silence.  Before them
loomed up the outline of Mainsail Haul.

"You will come in and have some tea, won't you?" she invited.

"If I may.  Believe me," he added, "it has only been a certain
diffidence that has kept me away so long."

She made no reply, and they entered the house together.  They found
Helen and Nora, with three or four young men from the Depot, having
tea in the drawing-room.  Lessingham slipped very easily into the
pleasant little circle.  If a trifle subdued, his quiet manners,
and a sense of humour which every now and then displayed itself,
were most attractive.

"Wish you'd come and dine with us and meet our colonel, sir,"
Harrison asked him.  "He was at Magdalen a few years after Major
Felstead, and I am sure you'd find plenty to talk about."

"I am quite sure that we should," Lessingham replied.  "May I come,
perhaps, towards the end of next week? I am making most strenuous
efforts to lead an absolutely quiet life here."

"Whenever you like, sir.  We sha'n't be able to show you anything
very wild in the way of dissipation.  Vintage port and a decent
cigar are the only changes we can make for guests."

Philippa drew her visitor on one side presently, and made him sit
with her in a distant corner of the room.

"I knew there was something I wanted to say to you," she began, "but
somehow or other I forgot when I met you.  My husband was very much
struck with Helen's improved spirits.  Don't you think that we had
better tell him, when he returns, that we had heard from Major
Felstead?"

Lessingham agreed.

"Just let him think that your letters came by post in the ordinary
way," he advised.  "I shouldn't imagine, from what I have seen of
your husband, that he is a suspicious person, but it is just possible
that he might have associated them with me if you had mentioned them
the other night.  When is he coming back?"

"I never know," Philippa answered with a sigh.  "Perhaps to-night,
perhaps in a week.  It depends upon what sport he is having.  You
are not smoking."

Lessingham lit a cigarette.

"I find your husband," he said quietly, "rather an interesting type.
We have no one like that in Germany.  He almost puzzles me."

Philippa glanced up to find her companion's dark eyes fixed upon her.

"There is very little about Henry that need puzzle any one," she
complained bitterly.  "He is just an overgrown, spoilt child, devoted
to amusements, and following his fancy wherever it leads him.  Why do
you look at me, Mr. Lessingham, as though you thought I was keeping
something back?  I am not, I can assure you."

"Perhaps I was wondering," he confessed, "how you really felt towards
a husband whose outlook was so unnatural."

She looked down at her intertwined fingers.

"Do you know," she said softly, "I feel, somehow or other, although
we have known one another such a short time, as though we were
friends, and yet that is a question which I could not answer.  A
woman must always have some secrets, you know."

"A man may try sometimes to preserve his," he sighed, "but a woman
is clever enough, as a rule, to dig them out."

A faint tinge of colour stole into her cheeks.  She welcomed Helen's
approach almost eagerly.

"A woman must first feel the will," she murmured, without glancing
at him.  "Helen, do you think we dare ask Mr. Lessingham to come
and dine?"

"Please do not discourage such a delightful suggestion," Lessingham
begged eagerly.

"I haven't the least idea of doing so," Helen laughed, "so long as
I may have--say just ten minutes to talk about Dick."

"It is a bargain," he promised.

"We shall be quite alone," Philippa warned him, "unless Henry arrives."

"It is the great attraction of your invitation," he confessed.

"At eight o'clock, then."



CHAPTER IX


"Captain Griffiths to see your ladyship."

Philippa's fingers rested for a moment upon the keyboard of the
piano before which she was seated, awaiting Lessingham's arrival.
Then she glanced at the clock.  It was ten minutes to eight.

"You can show him in, Mills, if he wishes to see me."

Captain Griffiths was ushered into the room--awkward, unwieldly,
nervous as usual.  He entered as though in a hurry, and there was
nothing in his manner to denote that he had spent the last few
hours making up his mind to this visit.

"I must apologise for this most untimely call, Lady Cranston," he
said, watching the closing of the door.  "I will not take up more
than five minutes of your time."

"We are very pleased to see you at any time, Captain Griffiths,"
Philippa said hospitably.  "Do sit down, please."

Captain Griffiths bowed but remained standing.

"It is very near your dinner-time, I know, Lady Cranston," he
continued apologetically.  "The fact of it is, however, that as
Commandant here it is my duty to examine the bona fides of any
strangers in the place.  There is a gentleman named Lessingham
staying at the hotel, who I understand gave your name as
reference."

Philippa's eyes looked larger than ever, and her face more innocent,
as she gazed up at her visitor.

"Why, of course, Captain Griffiths," she said.  "Mr. Lessingham
was at college with my brother, and one of his best friends.  He
has shot down at my father's place in Cheshire."

"You are speaking of your brother, Major Felstead?"

"My only brother."

"I am very much obliged to you, Lady Cranston," Captain Griffiths
declared.  "I can see that we need not worry any more about Mr.
Lessingham."

Philippa laughed.

"It seems rather old-fashioned to think of you having to worry about
any one down here," she observed.  "It really is a very harmless
neighbourhood, isn't it?"

"There isn't much going on, certainly," the Commandant admitted.
"Very dull the place seems at times."

"Now be perfectly frank," Philippa begged him.  "Is there a single
fact of importance which could be learnt in this place, worth
communicating to the enemy?  Is the danger of espionage here worth
a moment's consideration?"

"That," Captain Griffiths replied in somewhat stilted fashion, "is
not a question which I should be prepared to answer off-hand."

Philippa shrugged her shoulders and appealed almost feverishly to
Helen, who had just entered the room.

"Helen, do come and listen to Captain Griffiths!  He is making me
feel quite creepy.  There are secrets about, it seems, and he wants
to know all about Mr. Lessingham."

Helen smiled with complete self-possession.

"Well, we can set his mind at rest about Mr. Lessingham, can't we?"
she observed, as she shook hands.

"We can do more," Philippa declared.  "We can help him to judge for
himself.  We are expecting Mr. Lessingham for dinner, Captain
Griffiths. Do stay."

"I couldn't think of taking you by storm like this," Captain
Griffiths replied, with a wistfulness which only made his voice
sound hoarser and more unpleasant.  "It is most kind of you, Lady
Cranston.  Perhaps you will give me another opportunity."

"I sha'n't think of it," Philippa insisted.  "You must stay and
dine to-night.  We shall be a partie carríe, for Nora goes to bed
directly after dinner.  I am ringing the bell to tell Mills to set
an extra place," she added.

Captain Griffiths abandoned himself to fate with a little shiver of
complacency.  He welcomed Lessingham, who was presently announced,
with very much less than his usual reserve, and the dinner was in
every way a success.  Towards its close, Philippa became a little
thoughtful.  She glanced more than once at Lessingham, who was
sitting by her side, almost in admiration.  His conversation, gay
at times, always polished, was interlarded continually with those
little social reminiscences inevitable amongst men moving in a
certain circle of English society.  Apparently Richard Felstead
was not the only one of his college friends with whom he had kept
in touch.  The last remnants of Captain Griffiths' suspicions
seemed to vanish with their second glass of port, although his
manner became in no way more genial.

"Don't you think you are almost a little too daring?" Philippa
asked her favoured guest as he helped her afterwards to set out
a bridge table.

"One adapts one's methods to one's adversary," he murmured, with a
smile, "Your friend Captain Griffiths had only the very conventional
suspicions.  The mention of a few good English names, acquaintance
with the ordinary English sports, is quite sufficient with a man
like that."

Helen and Griffiths were talking at the other end of the room.
Philippa raised her eyes to her companion's.

"You become more of a mystery than ever," she declared.  "You are
making me even curious.  Tell me really why you have paid us this
visit from the clouds?"

She was sorry almost as soon as she had asked the question.  For a
moment the calm insouciance of his manner seemed to have departed.
His eyes glowed.

"In search of new things," he answered.

"Guns?  Fortifications?"

"Neither."

A spirit of mischief possessed her.  Lessingham's manner was baffling
and yet provocative.  For a moment the political possibilities of
his presence faded away from her mind.  She had an intense desire to
break through his reserve.

"Won't you tell me--why you came?"

"I could tell you more easily," he answered in a low tone, "why it
will be the most miserable day of my life when I leave."

She laughed at him with perfect heartiness.

"How delightful to be flirted with again!" she sighed.  "And I
thought all German men were so heavy, and paid elaborate, underdone
compliments.  Still, your secret, sir, please?  That is what I want
to know."

"If you will have just a little patience!" he begged, leaning so
close to her that their heads almost touched, "I promise that I will
not leave this place before I tell it to you."

Philippa's eyes for the first time dropped before his.  She knew
perfectly well what she ought to have done and she was singularly
indisposed to do it.  It was a most piquant adventure, after all,
and it almost helped her to forget the trouble which had been
sitting so heavily in her heart.  Still avoiding his eyes, she
called the others.

"We are quite ready for bridge," she announced.

They played four or five rubbers.  Lessingham was by far the most
expert player, and he and Philippa in the end were the winners.
The two men stood together for a moment or two at the sideboard,
helping themselves to whisky and soda.  Griffiths had become more
taciturn than ever, and even Philippa was forced to admit that the
latter part of the evening had scarcely been a success.

"Do you play club bridge in town, Mr. Lessingham?" Griffiths asked.

"Never," was the calm reply.

"You are head and shoulders above our class down here."

"Very good of you to say so," Lessingham replied courteously.  "I
held good cards to-night."

"I wonder," Griffiths went on, dropping his voice a little and
keeping his eyes fixed upon his companion, "what the German
substitute for bridge is."

"I wonder," Lessingham echoed.

"As a nation," his questioner proceeded, "they probably don't waste
as much time on cards as we do."

Lessingham's interest in the subject appeared to be non-existent.
He strolled away from the sideboard towards Philippa.  She, for her
part, was watching Captain Griffiths.

"So many thanks, Lady Cranston," Lessingham murmured, "for your
hospitality."

"And what about that secret?" she asked.

"You see, there are two," he answered, looking down at her.  "One
I shall most surely tell you before I leave here, because it is the
one secret which no man has ever succeeded in keeping to himself.
As for the other--"

He hesitated.  There was something almost like pain in his face.
She broke in hastily.

"I did not call you away to ask about either.  I happened to notice
Captain Griffiths just now.  Do you know that he is watching you
very closely?"

"I had an idea of it," Lessingham admitted indifferently.  "He is
rather a clumsy person, is he not?"

"You will be careful?" she begged earnestly.  "Remember, won't you,
that Helen and I are really in a most disgraceful position if
anything should come out."

"Nothing shall," he promised her.  "I think you know, do you not,
that, whatever might happen to me, I should find some means to
protect you."

For the second time she felt a curious lack of will to fittingly
reprove his boldness.  She had even to struggle to keep her tone as
careless as her words.

"You really are a delightful person!" she exclaimed.  "How long is
it since you descended from the clouds?"

"Sometimes I think that I am there still," he answered, "but I have
known you about seventy-six hours."

"What precision?" she laughed.  "It's a national characteristic,
isn't it?  Captain Griffiths," she continued, as she observed his
approach, "if you really must go, please take Mr. Lessingham with
you.  He is making fun of me.  I don't allow even Dick's friends
to do that."

Lessingham's disclaimer was in quite the correct vein.

"You must both come again very soon," their hostess concluded, as
she shook hands.  "I enjoyed our bridge immensely."

The two men were already on their way to the door when a sudden
idea seemed to occur to Captain Griffiths.  He turned back.

"By-the-by, Lady Cranston," he asked, "have you heard anything from
your brother?"

Philippa shook her head sadly.  Helen, who, unlike her friend, had
not had the advantage of a distinguished career upon the amateur
dramatic stage, turned away and held a handkerchief to her eyes.

"Not a word," was Philippa's sorrowful reply.

Captain Griffiths offered a clumsy expression of his sympathy.

"Bad luck!" he said.  "I'm so sorry, Lady Cranston.  Good night once
more."

This time their departure was uninterrupted.  Helen removed her
handkerchief from her eyes, and Philippa made a little grimace at
the closed door.

"Do you believe," Helen asked seriously, "that Captain Griffiths
has any suspicions?"

Philippa shrugged her shoulders.

"If he has, who cares?" she replied, a little defiantly.  "The
very idea of a duel of wits between those two men is laughable."

"Perhaps so," Helen agreed, with a shade of doubt in her tone.



CHAPTER X


Philippa and Helen started, a few mornings later, for one of their
customary walks.  The crystalline October sunshine, in which every
distant tree and, seaward, each slowly travelling steamer, seemed
to gain a new clearness of outline, lay upon the deep-ploughed
fields, the yellowing bracken, and the red-gold of the bending trees,
while the west wind, which had strewn the sea with white-flecked
waves, brought down the leaves to form a carpet for their feet, and
played strange music along the wood-crested slope.  In the broken
land through which they made their way, a land of trees and moorland,
with here and there a cultivated patch, the yellow gorse still glowed
in unexpected corners; queer, scentless flowers made splashes of
colour in the hedgerows; a rabbit scurried sometimes across their
path; a cock pheasant, after a moment's amazed stare, lowered his
head and rushed for unnecessary shelter.  The longer they looked
upwards, the bluer seemed the sky.  The grass beneath their feet was
as green and soft as in springtime.  Driven by the wind, here and
there a white-winged gull sailed over their heads,--a cloud of them
rested upon a freshly turned little square of ploughed land between
two woods.  A flight of pigeons, like torn leaves tossed about by
the wind, circled and drifted above them.  Philippa seated herself
upon the trunk of a fallen tree and gazed contentedly about her.

"If I had a looking-glass and a few more hairpins, I should be
perfectly happy," she sighed.  "I am sure my hair must look awful."

Helen glanced at it admiringly.

"I decline to say the correct thing," she declared.  "I will only
remind you that there will be no one here to look at it."

"I am not so sure," Philippa replied.  "These are the woods which
the special constables haunt by day and by night.  They gaze up
every tree trunk for a wireless installation, and they lie behind
hedges and watch for mysterious flashes."

"Are you suggesting that we may meet Mr. Lessingham?" Helen enquired,
lazily.  "I am perfectly certain that he knows nothing of the
equipment of the melodramatic spy.  As to Zeppelins, don't you
remember he told us that he hated them and was terrified of bombs."

"My dear," Philippa remonstrated, "Mr. Lessingham does nothing crude."

"And yet,--" Helen began.

"Yet I suppose the man has something at the back of his head,"
Philippa interrupted.  "Sometimes I think that he has, sometimes I
believe that Richard must have shown him my picture, and he has come
over here to see if I am really like it."

"He does behave rather like that," her companion admitted drily.

Phillipa turned and looked at her.

"Helen," she said severely, "don't be a cat."

"If I were to express my opinion of your behaviour," Helen went on,
picking up a pine cone and examining it, "I might astonish you."

"You have an evil mind," Philippa yawned, producing her cigarette
case.  "What you really resent is that Mr. Lessingham sometimes
forgets to talk about Dick."

"The poor man doesn't get much chance," Helen retorted, watching the
blue smoke from her cigarette and leaning back with an air of content.
"Whatever do you and he find to talk about, Philippa?"

"Literature--English and German," Philippa murmured demurely.  "Mr.
Lessingham is remarkably well read, and he knows more about our
English poets than any man I have met for years."

"I forgot that you enjoyed that sort of thing."

"Once more, don't be a cat," Philippa enjoined.  "If you want me to
confess it, I will own up at once.  You know what a simple little
thing I am.  I admire Mr. Lessingham exceedingly, and I find him a
most interesting companion."

"You mean," her friend observed drily "the Baron Maderstrom."
Philippa looked around and frowned.

"You are most indiscreet, Helen," she declared.  "I have learnt
something of the science of espionage lately, and I can assure you
that all spoken or written words are dangerous.  There is a
thoroughly British squirrel in that tree overhead, and I am sure
he heard."

"I suppose the sunshine has got into your head," Helen groaned.

"If you mean that I am finding it a relief to talk nonsense, you are
right," Philippa assented.  "As a matter of fact, I am feeling most
depressed.  Henry telephoned from somewhere or other before breakfast
this morning, to say that he should probably be home to-night or
to-morrow.  They must have landed somewhere down the coast."

"You are a most undutiful wife," Helen pronounced severely.  "I am
sure Henry is a delightful person, even if he is a little
irresponsible, and it is almost pathetic to remember how much you
were in love with him, a year or two ago."

Some of the lightness vanished from Philippa's face.

"That was before the war," she sighed.

"I still think Henry is a dear, though I don't altogether understand
him," Helen said thoughtfully.

"No doubt," Philippa assented, "but you'd find the not understanding
him a little more galling, if you were his wife.  You see, I didn't
know that I was marrying a sort of sporting Mr. Skimpole."

"I wonder," Helen reflected, "how Henry and Mr. Lessingham will get
on when they see more of one another."

"I really don't care," Philippa observed indifferently.

"I used to notice sometimes--that was soon after you were married,"
Helen continued, "that Henry was just a little inclined to be
jealous."

Philippa withdrew her eyes from the sea.  There was a queer little
smile upon her lips.

"Well, if he still is," she said, "I'll give him something to be
jealous about."

"Poor Mr. Lessingham!" Helen murmured.

Philippa's eyebrows were raised.

"Poor Mr. Lessingham?" she repeated.  "I don't think you'll find
that he'll be in the least sorry for himself."

"He may be in earnest," Helen reminded her friend.  "You can be
horribly attractive when you like, you know, Philippa."

Philippa smiled sweetly.

"It is just possible," she said, "that I may be in earnest myself.
I've quarrelled pretty desperately with Henry, you know, and I'm a
helpless creature without a little admiration."

Helen rose suddenly to her feet.  Her eyes were fixed upon a figure
approaching through the wood.

"You really aren't respectable, Philippa," she declared.  "Throw
away your cigarette, for heaven's sake, and sit up.  Some one is
coming."

Philippa only moved her head lazily.  The sunlight, which came down
in a thousand little zigzags through the wind-tossed trees, fell
straight upon her rather pale, defiant little face, with its
unexpressed evasive charm, and seemed to find a new depth of colour
in the red-gold of her disordered hair.  Her slim, perfect body was
stretched almost at full length, one leg drawn a little up, her hands
carelessly drooping towards the grass.  The cigarette was still
burning in the corner of her lips.

"I decline," she said, "to throw away my cigarette for any one."

"Least of all, I trust," a familiar voice interposed, "for me."

Philippa sat upright at once, smoothed her hair and looked a little
resentfully at Lessingham.  He was wearing a brown tweed
knickerbocker suit, and he carried a gun under his arm.

"Whatever are you doing up here," she demanded, "and do you know
anything about our game laws?  You can't come out into the woods
here and shoot things just because you feel like it."

He disposed of his gun and seated himself between them.

"That is quite all right," he assured her.  "Your neighbour, Mr.
Windover, to whom these woods apparently belong, asked me to bring
my gun out this morning and try and get a woodcock."

"Gracious!  You don't mean that Mr. Windover is here, too?" Philippa
demanded, looking around.  Lessingham shook his head.

"His car came for him at the other side of the wood," he explained.
"He was wanted to go on the Bench.  I elected to walk home."

"And the woodcock?" she asked.  "I adore woodcock."

He produced one from his pocket, took up her felt hat, which was
lying amongst the bracken, and busied himself insinuating the pin
feathers under the silk band.

"There," he said, handing it to her, "the first woodcock of the
season.  We got four, and I really only accepted one in the hope
that you would like it.  I shall leave it with the estimable Mills,
on my return."

"You must come and share it," Philippa insisted.  "Those boys of
Nora's are coming in to dinner.  Your gift shall be the piece de
resistance."

"Then may I dine another night?" he begged.  "This place encourages
in me the grossest of appetites."

"Have no fear," she replied.  "You will never see that woodcock
again.  I shall have it for my luncheon to-morrow.  I ordered dinner
before I came out, and though it may be a simple feast, I promise
that you shall not go away hungry."

"Will you promise that you will never send me away hungry?" he asked,
dropping his voice for a moment.

She turned and studied him.  Helen, who had strolled a few yards
away, was knee-deep in the golden brown bracken, picking some
gorgeously coloured leaves from a solitary bramble bush.  Lessingham
had thrown his cap onto the ground, and his wind-tossed hair and the
unusual colour in his cheeks were both, in their way, becoming.  His
loose but well-fitting country clothes, his tie and soft collar, were
all well-chosen and suitable.  She admired his high forehead and his
firm, rather proud mouth.  His eyes as well as his tone were full of
seriousness.

"You know that you ought to be saying that to some Gretchen away
across that terrible North Sea," she laughed.

"There is no Gretchen who has ever made my heart shake as you do,"
he whispered.

She picked up her hat and sighed.

"Really," she said, "I think things are quite complicated enough as
they are.  I am in a flutter all day long, as it is, about your
mission here and your real identity.  I simply could not include a
flirtation amongst my excitements."

"I have never flirted," he assured her gravely.

"Wise man," she pronounced, rising to her feet.  "Come, let us go
and help Helen pick leaves.  She is scratching her fingers terribly,
and I'm sure you have a knife.  A dear, economical creature, Helen,"
she added, as they strolled along.  "I am perfectly certain that
those are destined to adorn my dining-table, and, with chrysanthemums
at sixpence each, you can't imagine how welcome they are.  Come,
produce the knife, Mr. Lessingham."

The knife was forthcoming, and presently they all turned their faces
homeward.  Philippa arrested both her companions on the outskirts of
the wood, and pointed to the red-tiled little town, to the sombre,
storm-beaten grey church on the edge of the cliff, to the peaceful
fields, the stretch of gorse-sprinkled common, and the rolling
stretch of green turf on the crown of the cliffs.  Beyond was the
foam-flecked blue sea, dotted all over with cargo steamers.

"Would one believe," she asked satirically, "that there should be
scope here in this forgotten little spot for the brains of a--Mr.
Lessingham!"

"Remember that I was sent," he protested.  "The error, if error
there be, is not mine."

"And after all," Helen reminded them both, "think how easily one
may be misled by appearances.  You couldn't imagine anything more
honest than the faces of the villagers and the fishermen one sees
about, yet do you know, Mr. Lessingham, that we were visited by
burglars last night?"

"Seriously?" he asked.

"Without a doubt.  Of course, Mainsail Haul is an invitation to
thieves.  They could get in anywhere.  Last night they chose the
French windows and seem to have made themselves at home in the
library."

"I trust," Lessingham said, "that they did not take anything of value?"

"They took nothing at all," Philippa sighed.  "That is the
humiliating part of it.  They evidently didn't like our things."

"How do you know that you had burglars, if they took nothing away?"
Lessingham enquired.

"So practical!" Philippa murmured.  "As a matter of fact, I heard
some one moving about, and I rang the alarm bell.  Mills was
downstairs almost directly and we heard some one running down the
drive.  The French windows were open, a chair was overturned in the
library, and a drawer in my husband's desk was wide open."

"The proof," Lessingham admitted, "is overwhelming.  You were visited
by a burglar.  Does your husband keep anything of value in his desk?"

"Henry hasn't anything of value in the world," Philippa replied
drily, "except his securities, and they are at the bank."

"Without going so far as to contradict you," Lessingham observed, with
a smile, "I still venture to disagree!"



CHAPTER XI


Sir Henry stepped back from the scales and eyed the fish which they
had been weighing, admiringly.

"You see that, Mills?  You see that, Jimmy?" he pointed out.  "Six
and three-quarter pounds!  I was right almost to an ounce.  He's a
fine fellow!"

"A very extraordinary fish, sir," the butler observed.  "Will you
allow me to take your oilskins?  Dinner was served nearly an hour
ago."

Sir Henry slipped off his dripping overalls and handed them over.

"That's all right," he replied.  "Listen.  Don't say a word about
my arrival to your mistress at present.  I have some writing to do.
Bring me a glass of sherry at once, or mix a cocktail if you can
do so without being missed, and take Jimmy away and give him some
whisky and soda."

"But what about your own dinner, sir?"

"I'll have a tray in the gun room," his master decided, "say in
twenty minutes' time.  And, Mills, who did you say were dining?"

"Two of the young officers from the Depot, sir--Mr. Harrison and
Mr. Sinclair--and Mr. Hamar Lessingham."

"Lessingham, eh?" Sir Henry repeated, as he seated himself before
his writing-table.  "Mills," he added, in a confidential whisper,
"what port did you serve?"

The butler's expression was one of conscious rectitude.

"Not the vintage, sir," he announced with emphasis.  "Some very
excellent wood port, which we procured for shooting luncheons.
The young gentlemen like it."

"You're a jewel, Mills," his master declared.  "Now you understand
--an aperitif for me now, some whisky for Jimmy in your room, and
not a word about my being here.  Good night, Jimmy.  Sorry we were
too late for the mackerel, but we had some grand sport, all the same.
You'll have a day or two's rest ashore now."

"Aye, aye, sir!" Dumble replied.  "We got in just in time.  There's
something more than a squall coming up nor'ards."

Sir Henry listened for a moment.  The French windows shook, the rain
beat against the panes, and a dull booming of wind was clearly
audible from outside.

"We timed that excellently," he agreed.  "Come up and have a chat
to-morrow, Jimmy, if your wife will spare you."

"I'll be round before eleven, sir," the fisherman promised, with a
grin.

Sir Henry waited for the closing of the door.  Then he leaned forward
for several moments.  He had scarcely the appearance of a man returned
from a week or two of open-air life and indulgence in the sport he
loved best.  The healthy tan of his complexion was lessened rather
than increased.  There were black lines under his eyes which seemed
to speak of sleepless nights, and a beard of several days' growth
was upon his chin.  He drank the cocktail which Mills presently
brought him, at a gulp, and watched with satisfaction while the mixer
was vigorously shaken and a second one poured out.

"We've had a rough time, Mills," he observed, as he set down the
glass.  "Until this morning it scarcely left off blowing."

"I'm sorry to hear it, sir," was the respectful reply.  "If I may
be allowed to say so, sir, you're looking tired."

"I am tired," Sir Henry admitted.  "I think, if I tried, I could go
to sleep now for twenty-four hours."

"You will pardon my reminding you, so far as regards your letters,
that there is no post out tonight, sir," Mills proceeded.  "I have
prepared a warm bath and laid out your clothes for a change."

"Capital!" Sir Henry exclaimed.  "It isn't a letter that's bothering
me, though, Mills.  There are just a few geographical notes I want
to make.  You know, I'm trying to improve the fishermen's chart of
the coast round here.  That fellow Groocock--Jimmy Dumble's uncle
--very nearly lost his motor boat last week through trusting to the
old one."

"Just so, sir," Mills replied deferentially, placing the empty glass
upon his tray.  "If you'll excuse me, sir, I must get back to the
dining room."

"Quite right," his master assented.  "They won't be out just yet,
will they?"

"Her ladyship will probably be rising in about ten minutes, sir
--not before that."

Sir Henry nodded a little impatiently.  Directly the door was closed
he rose to his feet, stood for a moment listening by the side of his
fishing cabinet, then opened the glass front and touched the spring.
With the aid of a little electric torch which he took from his
pocket, he studied particularly a certain portion of the giant chart,
made some measurements with a pencil, some notes in the margin, and
closed it up again with an air of satisfaction.  Then he resumed his
seat, drew a folded slip of paper from his breast pocket, a chart
from another, turned up the lamp and began to write.  His face, as
he stooped low, escaped the soft shade and was for a moment almost
ghastly.  Every now and then he turned and made some calculations on
the blotting-paper by his side.  At last he leaned back with a little
sigh of relief.  He had barely done so before the door behind him
was opened.

"Are we going to stay in here, Mummy, or are we going into the
drawing-room?" Nora asked.

"In here, I think," he heard Philippa reply.

Then they both came in, followed by Helen.  Nora was the first to
see him and rushed forward with a little cry of surprise.

"Why, here's Dad!" she exclaimed, flinging her arms around his neck.
"Daddy, how dare you be sitting here all by yourself whilst we are
having dinner!  When did you get back?  What a fish!"

Sir Henry closed down his desk, embraced his daughter, and came
forward to meet his wife.

"Fine fellow, isn't he, Nora!" he agreed.  "Well, Philippa, how are
you?  Pleased to see me, I hope?  Another new frock, I believe, and
in war time!"

"Fancy your remembering that it was war time!" she answered, standing
very still while he leaned over and kissed her.

"Nasty one for me," Sir Henry observed good-humouredly.  "How well
you're looking, Helen!  Any news of Dick yet?"

Helen attempted an expression of extreme gravity with more or less
success.

"Nothing fresh," she answered.

"Well, well, no news may be good news," Sir Henry remarked
consolingly.  "Jove, it's good to feel a roof over one's head again!
This morning has been the only patch of decent weather we've had."

"This morning was lovely," Helen assented.  "Philippa and I went and
sat up in the woods."

Philippa, who was standing by the fire, turned and looked at her
husband critically.

"We have some men dining," she said.  "They will be out in a few
minutes.  Don't you think you had better go and make yourself
presentable?  You smell of fish, and you look as though you hadn't
shaved for a week."

"Guilty, my dear," Sir Henry admitted.  "Mills is just getting me
something to eat in the gun room, and then I am going to have a
bath and change my clothes."

"And shave, Dad," Nora reminded him.

"And shave, you young pest," her father agreed, patting her on the
shoulder.  "Run away and play billiards with Helen.  I want to talk
to your mother until my dinner's ready."

Nora acquiesced promptly.

"Come along, Helen, I'll give you twenty-five up.   Or perhaps you'd
like to play shell out?" she proposed.  "Arthur Sinclair says I have
improved in my potting more than any one he ever knew."

Sir Henry opened the door and closed it after them.  Then he returned
and seated himself on the lounge by Philippa's side.  She glanced up
at him as though in surprise, and, stretching out her hand towards
her work-basket, took up some knitting.

"I really think I should change at once, if I were you," she
suggested.

"Presently.  I had a sort of foolish idea that I'd like to have a
word or two with you first.  I've been away for nearly a fortnight,
haven't I?"

"You have," Philippa assented.  "Perhaps that is the reason why
I feel that I haven't very much to say to you."

"That sounds just a trifle hard," he said slowly.

"I am hard sometimes," Philippa confessed.  "You know that quite
well.  There are times when I just feel as though I had no heart
at all, nor any sympathy; when every sensation I might have had
seems shrivelled up inside me."

"Is that how you are feeling at the present time towards me,
Philippa?" he asked.

Her needles flashed through the wool for a moment in silence.

"You had every warning," she told him.  "I tried to make you
understand exactly how your behaviour disgusted me before you
went away."

"Yes, I remember," he admitted.  "I'm afraid, dear, you think I
am a worthless sort of a fellow."

Philippa had apparently dropped a stitch.  She bent lower still over
her knitting.  There was a distinct frown upon her forehead, her
mouth was unrecognisable.

"Your friend Lessingham is here still, I understand?" her husband
remarked presently.

"Yes," Philippa assented, "he is dining to-night.  You will probably
see him in a few minutes."

Sir Henry looked thoughtful, and studied for a moment the toe of a
remarkably unprepossessing looking shoe.

"You're so keen about that sort of thing," he said, "what about
Lessingham?  He is not soldiering or anything, is he?"

"I have no idea," Philippa replied.  "He walks with a slight limp
and admits that he is here as a convalescent, but he hasn't told us
very much about himself."

"I wonder you haven't tackled him," Sir Henry continued.  "You're
such an ardent recruiter, you ought to make sure that he is doing
his bit of butchery."

Philippa looked up at her husband for a moment and back at her work.

"Mr. Lessingham," she said, "is a very delightful friend, whose stay
here every one is enjoying very much, but he is a comparative
stranger.  I feel no responsibility as to his actions."

"And you do as to mine?"

"Naturally."

Sir Henry's head was resting on his hand, his elbow on the back of
the lounge.  He seemed to be listening to the voices in the dining
room beyond.

"Hm!" he observed.  "Has he been here often while I've been away?"

"As often as he chose," Philippa replied.  "He has become very popular
in the neighbourhood already, and he is an exceedingly welcome guest
here at any time."

"Takes advantage of your hospitality pretty often, doesn't he?"

"He is here most days.  We are always rather disappointed when he
doesn't come."

Sir Henry's frown grew a little deeper.

"What's the attraction?" he demanded.

Philippa smiled.  It was the smile which those who knew her best,
feared.

"Well," she confided, "I used to imagine that it was Helen, but I
think that he has become a little bored, talking about nothing but
Dick and their college days.  I am rather inclined to fancy that it
must be me."

"You, indeed!" he grunted.  "Are you aware that you are a married
woman?"

Philippa glanced up from her work.  Her eyebrows were raised, and
her expression was one of mild surprise.

"How queer that you should remind me of it!" she murmured.  "I am
afraid that the sea air disturbs your memory."

Sir Henry rose abruptly to his feet.

"Oh, damn!" he exclaimed.

He walked to the door.  His guests were still lingering over their
wine.  He could hear their voices more distinctly than ever.  Then
he came back to the sofa and stood by Philippa's side.

"Philippa, old girl," he pleaded, "don't let us quarrel.  I have had
such a hard fortnight, a nor'easter blowing all the time, and the
dirtiest seas I've ever known at this time of the year.  For five days
I hadn't a dry stitch on me, and it was touch and go more than once.
We were all in the water together, and there was a nasty green wave
that looked like a mountain overhead, and the side of our own boat
bending over us as though it meant to squeeze our ribs in.  It looked
like ten to one against us, Phil, and I got a worse chill than the
sea ever gave me when I thought that I shouldn't see you again."

Philippa laid down her knitting.  She looked searchingly into her
husband's face.  She was very far from indifferent to his altered
tone.

"Henry," she said, "that sounds very terrible, but why do you run
such risks--unworthily?  Do you think that I couldn't give you all
that you want, all that I have to give, if you came home to me with
a story like this and I knew that you had been facing death
righteously and honourably for your country's sake?  Why, Henry,
there isn't a man in the world could have such a welcome as I could
give you.  Do you think I am cold?  Of course you don't!  Do you
think I want to feel as I have done this last fortnight towards you?
Why, it's misery!  It makes me feel inclined to commit any folly,
any madness, to get rid of it all."

Her husband hesitated.  A frown had darkened his face.  He had the
air of one who is on the eve of a confession.

"Philippa," he began, "you know that when I go out on these fishing
expeditions, I also put in some work at the new chart which I am so
anxious to prepare for the fishermen."

Philippa shook her head impatiently.

"Don't talk to me about your fishermen, Henry!  I'm as sick with
them as I am with you.  You can see twenty or thirty of them any
morning, lounging about the quay, strapping young fellows who
shelter themselves behind the plea of privileged employment.  We are
notorious down here for our skulkers, and you--you who should be
the one man to set them an example, are as bad as they are.  You
deliberately encourage them."

Sir Henry abandoned his position by his wife's side, His face
darkened and his eyes flashed.

"Skulkers?" he repeated furiously.

Philippa looked at him without flinching.

"Yes!  Don't you like the word?"

The angry flush faded from his cheeks as quickly as it had come.  He
laughed a little unnaturally, took up a cigarette from an open box,
and lit it.

"It isn't a pleasant one, is it, Philippa?" he observed, thrusting
his hands into his jacket pockets strolling away.  "If one doesn't
feel the call--well, there you are, you see.  Jove, that's a fine
fish."

He stood admiring the codling upon the scales.  Philippa continued
her work.

"If you intend to spend the rest of the evening with us," she told
him calmly, "please let me remind you again that we have guests for
dinner.  Your present attire may be comfortable but it is scarcely
becoming."

He turned away and came back towards her.  As he passed the lamp,
she started.

"Why, you're wet," she exclaimed, "wet through!"

"Of course I am," he admitted, feeling his sleeve, "but to tell you
the truth, in the interest of our conversation I had quite forgotten
it.  Here come our guests, before I have had time to escape.  I can
hear your friend Lessingham's voice."



CHAPTER XII


The three dinner guests entered together, Lessingham in the middle.
Sir Henry's presence was obviously a surprise to all of them.

"No idea that you were back, sir," Harrison observed, shaking hands.

Sir Henry greeted them all good-humouredly.  "I turned up about
three quarters of an hour ago," he explained, "just too late to
join you at dinner."

"Bad luck, sir," Sinclair remarked.  "I hope that you had good sport?"

"Not so bad," Sir Henry admitted.  "We had to go far enough for it,
though.  What do you think of that for an October codling?"

They all approached the scales and admired the fish.  Sir Henry
stood with his hands in his pockets, listening to their comments.

"You are enjoying your stay here, I hope, Mr. Lessingham?" he
enquired.

"One could scarcely fail to enjoy even the briefest holiday in so
delightfully hospitable a place," was the somewhat measured reply.

"You're by way of being a fisherman yourself, I hear?" Sir Henry
continued.

"In a very small way," Lessingham acknowledged.  "I have been out
once or twice."

"With Ben Oates, eh?"

"I believe that was the man's name."

Philippa glanced up from her work with a little exclamation of
surprise.

"I had no idea of that, Mr. Lessingham.  Whatever made you choose
Ben Oates?  He is a most disgraceful person."

"It was entirely by accident," Lessingham explained.  "I met him on
the front.  It happened to be a fine morning, and he was rather
pressing in his invitation."

"I'm afraid he didn't show you much sport," Sir Henry observed.
"From what Jimmy Dumble's brother told him, he seems to have taken
you in entirely the wrong direction, and on the wrong tide."

"We had a small catch," Lessingham replied.  "I really went more for
the sail than the sport, so I was not disappointed."

"The coast itself," Sir Henry remarked, "is rather an interesting
one."

"I should imagine so," Lessingham assented.  "Mr. Ben Oates, indeed,
told me some wonderful stories about it.  He spoke of broad channels
down which a dreadnought could approach within a hundred yards of
the land."

"He is quite right, too," his host agreed.

"There's a lot of deep water about here.  The whole of the coast is
very curious in that way.  What the--what the dickens is this?"

Sir Henry, who had been strolling about the room, picked up a
Homburg hat from the far side of a table of curios.  Philippa glanced
up at his exclamation.

"That's Nora's trophy," she explained.  "I told her to take it up to
her own room, but she's always wanting to show it to her friends."

"Nora's trophy?" Sir Henry repeated.  "Why, it's nothing but an
ordinary man's hat."

"Nevertheless, it's a very travelled one, sir," Harrison pointed out.
"Miss Nora picked it up on Dutchman's Common, the morning after the
observation car was found there."

Sir Henry held out the hat.

"But Nora doesn't seriously suppose that the Germans come over in
this sort of headgear, does she?" he demanded.

"If you'll just look inside the lining, sir," Sinclair suggested.

Sir Henry turned it up and whistled softly.  "By Jove, it's a
German hat, all right!" he exclaimed.  "Doesn't look a bad shape,
either."

He tried it on.  There was a little peal of laughter from the men.
Philippa had ceased her knitting and was watching from the couch.
Sir Henry looked at himself in the looking-glass.

"Well, that's funny," he observed.  "I shouldn't have thought it
would have been so much too small for me.  Here, just try how you'd
look in it, Mr. Lessingham," he added, handing it across to him.

Lessingham accepted the situation quite coolly, and placed the hat
carefully on his head.

"It doesn't feel particularly comfortable," he remarked.

"That may be," Sir Henry suggested, "because you have it on wrong
side foremost.  If you'd just turn it round, I believe you would
find it a very good fit."

Lessingham at once obeyed.  Sir Henry regarded him with admiration.

"Excellent!" he exclaimed.  "Look at that, Philippa.  Might have
been made for him, eh?"

Lessingham looked at himself in the glass and removed the hat from
his head with, some casual observation.  He was entirely at his ease.
His host turned towards the door, which Mills was holding open.

"Captain Griffiths, sir," the latter announced.

Sir Henry greeted his visitor briefly.

"How are you, Griffiths?" he said.  "Glad to see you.  Excuse my
costume, but I am just back from a fishing expedition.  We are all
admiring Mr. Lessingham in his magic hat."

Captain Griffiths shook hands with Philippa, nodded to the others,
and turned towards Lessingham.

"Put it on again, there's a good fellow, Lessingham," Sir Henry
begged.  "You see, we have found a modern version of Cinderella's
slipper.  The hat which fell from the Zeppelin on to Dutchman's
Common fits our friend like a glove.  I never thought the Germans
made such good hats, did you, Griffiths?"

"I always thought they imported their felt hats," Captain Griffiths
acknowledged.  "Is that really the one with the German name inside,
which Miss Nora brought home?"

"This is the genuine article," Lessingham assented, taking it from
his head and passing it on to the newcomer.  "Notwithstanding the
name inside, I should still believe that it was an English hat.  It
feels too comfortable for anything else."

The Commandant took the hat to a lamp and examined it carefully.
He drew out the lining and looked all the way round.  Suddenly he
gave vent to a little exclamation.

"Here are the owner's initials," he declared, "rather faint but
still distinguishable,--B. M.  Hm!  There's no doubt about its
being a German hat."

"B. M.," Sir Henry muttered, looking over his shoulder.  "How very
interesting!  B. M.," he repeated, turning to Philippa, who had
recommenced her knitting.  "Is it my fancy, or is there something
a little familiar about that?"

"I am sure that I have no idea," Philippa replied.  "It conveys
nothing to me."

There was a brief but apparently pointless silence.  Philippa's
needles flashed through her wool with easy regularity.  Lessingham
appeared to be sharing the mild curiosity which the others showed
concerning the hat.  Sir Henry was standing with knitted brows, in
the obvious attitude of a man seeking to remember something.

"B. M.," he murmured softly to himself.  "There was some one I've
known or heard of in England--What's that, Mills?"

"Your dinner is served, sir," Mills, who had made a silent entrance,
announced.

Sir Henry apparently thought no more of the hat or its possible
owner.  He threw it upon a neighbouring table, and his face expressed
a new interest in life.

"Jove, I'm ravenous!" he confessed.  "You'll excuse me, won't you?
Mills, see that these gentlemen have cigars and cigarettes--in the
billiard room, I should think.  You'll find the young people there.
I'll come in and have a game of pills later."

The two young soldiers, with Captain Griffiths, followed Sir Henry
at once from the room.  Lessingham, however, lingered.  He stood
with his hands behind him, looking at the closed door.

"Are you going to stay and talk nonsense with me, Mr. Lessingham?"
Philippa asked.

"If I may," he answered, without changing his position.

Philippa looked at him curiously.

"Do you see ghosts through that door?"

He shook his head.

"Do you know," he said, as he seated himself by her side, "there
are times when I find your husband quite interesting."



CHAPTER XIII


Philippa leaned back in her place.

"Exactly what do you mean by that, Mr. Lessingham?" she demanded.

He shook himself free from a curious sense of unreality, and turned
towards her.

"I must confess," he said, "that sometimes your husband puzzles me."

"Not nearly so much as he puzzles me," Philippa retorted, a little
bitterly.

"Has he always been so desperately interested in deep-sea fishing?"

Philippa shrugged her shoulders.

"More or less, but never quite to this extent.  The thing has become
an obsession with him lately.  If you are really going to stay and
talk with me, do you mind if we don't discuss my husband?  Just now
the subject is rather a painful one with me."

"I can quite understand that," Lessingham murmured sympathetically.

"What do you think of Captain Griffiths?" she asked, a little
abruptly.

"I have thought nothing more about him.  Should I?  Is he of any
real importance?"

"He is military commandant here."

Lessingham nodded thoughtfully.

"I suppose that means that he is the man who ought to be on my
track," he observed.

"I shouldn't be in the least surprised to hear that he was," Philippa
said drily.  "I have told you that he came and asked about you the
other night, when he dined here.  He seemed perfectly satisfied then,
but he is here again to-night to see Henry, and he never visits
anywhere in an ordinary way."

"Are you uneasy about me?" Lessingham enquired.

"I am not sure," she answered frankly.  "Sometimes I am almost
terrified and would give anything to hear that you were on your way
home.  And at other times I realise that you are really very clever,
that nothing is likely to happen to you, and that the place will
seem duller than ever when you do go."

"That is very kind of you," he said.  "In any case, I fear that my
holiday will soon be coming to an end."

"Your holiday?" she repeated.  "Is that what you call it?"

"It has been little else," he replied indifferently.  "There is
nothing to be learnt here of the slightest military significance."

"We told you that when you arrived," Philippa reminded him.

"I was perhaps foolish not to believe you," he acknowledged.

"So your very exciting journey through the clouds has ended in
failure, after all!" she went on, a moment or two later.

"Failure?  No, I should not call it failure."

"You have really made some discoveries, then?" she enquired dubiously.

"I have made the greatest discovery in the world."

Her eyebrows were gently raised, the corners of her mouth quivered,
her eyes fell.

"Dear me!  In this quiet spot?" she sighed.

"Yes!"

"Is it Helen or me?"

"Philippa!" he protested.

Her eyebrows were more raised than ever.  Her mouth had lost its
alluring curve.

"Really, Mr. Lessingham!" she exclaimed.  "Have I ever given you
the right to call me by my Christian name?"

"In my country," he answered, "we do not wait to ask.  We take."

"Rank Prussianism," she murmured.  "I really think you had better
go back there.  You are adopting their methods."

"I may have to at any moment," he admitted, "or to some more distant
country still.  I want something to take back with me."

"You want a keepsake, of course," Philippa declared, looking around
the room.  "You can have my photograph--the one over there.  Helen
will give you one of hers, too, I am sure, if you ask her.  She is
just as grateful to you about Richard as I am."

"But from you," he said earnestly, "I want more than gratitude."

"Dear me, how persistent you are!" Philippa murmured.  "Are you
really determined to make love to me?"

"Ah, don't mock me!" he begged.  "What I am saying to you comes from
my heart."

Philippa laughed at him quietly.  There was just a little break in
her voice, however.

"Don't be absurd!"

"There is nothing absurd about it," he replied, with a note of
sadness in his tone.  "I felt it from the moment we met.  I struggled
against it, but I have felt it growing day by day.  I came here with
my mind filled with different purposes.  I had no thought of amusing
myself, no thought of seeking here the happiness which up till now
I seem to have missed.  I came as a servant because I was sent, a
mechanical being.  You have changed everything.  For you I feel what
I have never felt for any woman before.  I place before you my career,
my freedom, my honour."

Philippa sighed very softly.

"Do you mind ringing the bell?" she begged.

"The bell?" he repeated.  "What for?"

"I want Helen to hear you," she confided, with a wonderful little
smile.

"Philippa, don't mock me," he pleaded.  "If this is only amusement
to you, tell me so and let me go away.  It is the first time in my
life that a woman has come between me and my work.  I am no longer
master of myself.  I am obsessed with you.  I want nothing else in
life but your love."

There was an almost startling change in Philippa's face.  The banter
which had served her with so much effect, which she had relied upon
as her defensive weapon, was suddenly useless.  Lessingham had
created an atmosphere around him, an atmosphere of sincerity.

"Are you in earnest?" she faltered.

"God knows I am!" he insisted.

"You--you care for me?"

"So much," he answered passionately, "that for your sake I would
sacrifice my honour, my country, my life."

"But I've only known you for such a short time," Philippa protested,
"and you're an enemy."

"I discard my birth.  I renounce my adopted country," he declared
fiercely.  "You have swept my life clear of every scrap of ambition
and patriotism.  You have filled it with one thing only--a great,
consuming love."

"Have you forgotten my husband?"

"Do you think that if he had been a different sort of man I should
have dared to speak?  Ask yourself how you can continue to live
with him?  You can call him which you will.  Both are equally
disgraceful.  Your heart knows the truth.  He is either a coward or
a philanderer."

Philippa's cheeks were suddenly white.  Her eyes flashed.  His words
had stung her to the quick.

"A coward?" she repeated furiously.  "You dare to call Henry that?"

Lessingham rose abruptly to his feet.  He moved restlessly about the
room.  His fists were clenched, his tone thick with passion.

"I do!" he pronounced.  "Philippa, look at this matter without
prejudice.  Do you believe that there is a single man of any country,
of your husband's age and rank, who would be content to trawl the
seas for fish whilst his country's blood is being drained dry?  Who
would weigh a codling," he added, pointing scornfully to the scales,
"whilst the funeral march of heroes is beating throughout the world?
The thing is insensate, impossible!"

Philippa's head drooped.  Her hands were nervously intertwined.

"Don't!" she pleaded, "I have suffered so much."

"Forgive me," he begged, with a sudden change of voice.  "If I am
mistaken in your husband--and there is always the chance--I am
sorry.  I will confess that I myself had a different opinion of him,
but I can only judge from what I have seen and from that there is
no one in the world who would not agree with me that your husband
is unworthy of you."

"Oh, please stop!" Philippa cried.  "Stop at once!"

Lessingham came back to his place by her side.  His voice was still
shaking, but it had grown very soft.

"Philippa, forgive me," he repeated.  "If you only knew how it hurts
to see you like this!  Yet I must speak.  There is just once in
every man's lifetime when he must tell the truth.  That time has
come with me--I love you."

"So does my husband," she murmured.

"I will only remind you, then, that he shows it in strange fashion,"
Lessingham continued.  "He sets your wishes at defiance.  He who
should be an example in a small place like this, is only an object
of contempt in the neighbourhood.  Even I, who have only lived here
for so short a time, have caught the burden of what people say."

Philippa wiped her eyes.

"Please, do you mind," she begged, "not saying anything more about
Henry.  You are only reminding me of things which I try all the
time to forget."

"Believe me," Lessingham answered wistfully, "I am only too content
to ignore him, to forget that he exists, to remember only that you
are the woman who has changed my life."

Philippa looked at him in something like dismay, rather like a child
who has started an engine which she has no idea how to stop.

"But you must not--you must not talk to me like this!"

His hand closed upon hers.  It lay in his grasp, unyielding, cold,
yet passive.

"Why not?" he whispered.  "I have the one unalterable right, and I
am willing to pay the great price."

"Right?" she faltered.

"The right of loving you--the right of loving you better than any
woman in the world."

There was a queer silence, only partly due, as she was instantly
aware, to the emotion of the moment.  A door behind them had opened.
Philippa's quicker senses had recognised her husband's footsteps.
Lessingham rose deliberately to his feet.  In his heart he welcomed
the interruption.  This might, perhaps, be the decisive moment.  Sir
Henry was strolling towards them.  His manner and his tone, however,
were alike good-natured.

"I was to order you into the billiard room, Mr. Lessingham," he
announced.  "Sinclair has been sent for--a night route march, or
some such horror--and they want you to make a four."

Lessingham hesitated.  He had a passionate inclination to face the
situation, to tell this man the truth.  Sir Henry's courteous
indifference, however, was like a harrier.  He recognised the
inevitable.

"I am afraid I am rather out of practice," he said, "but I shall be
delighted to do my best."



CHAPTER XIV


Sir Henry was obviously not in the best of tempers.  For a
mild-mannered and easy-going man, his expression was scarcely normal.

"That fellow was making love to you," he said bluntly, as soon as
the door was closed behind Lessingham.

Philippa looked up at her husband with an air of pleasant candour.

"He was doing it very nicely, too," she admitted.

"You mean to say that you let him?"

"I listened to what he had to say," she confessed.  "It didn't occur
to you, I suppose," her husband remarked, with somewhat strained
sarcasm, "that you were another man's wife?"

"I am doing my best to forget that fact," Philippa reminded him.

"I see!  And he is to help you?"

"Possibly."

Sir Henry's irritation was fast merging into anger.

"I shall turn the fellow out of the house," he declared.

Philippa shrugged her shoulders.

"Why don't you?"

He seated himself on the couch by his wife's side.  "Look here,
Philippa, don't let's wrangle," he begged.  "I'm afraid you'll have
to make up your mind to see a good deal less of your friend
Lessingham, anyway."

Philippa's brows were knitted.  She was conscious of a vague
uneasiness.

"Really?  And why?"

"For one thing," her husband explained, "because I don't intend to
have him hanging about my house during my absence."

"The best way to prevent that would be not to go away," Philippa
suggested.

"Well, in all probability," he announced guardedly, "I am not
going away again--at least not just yet."

Philippa's manner suddenly changed.  She laid down her work.  Her
hand rested lightly upon her husband's shoulder.

"You mean that you are going to give up those horrible fishing
excursions of yours?"

"For the present I am," he assured her.

"And are you going to do something--some work, I mean?" she asked
breathlessly.

"For the immediate present I am going to stay at home and look after
you," he replied.

Philippa's face fell.  Her manner became notably colder.

"You are very wise," she declared.  "Mr. Lessingham is a most
fascinating person.  We are all half in love with him--even Helen."

"The fellow must have a way with him," Sir Henry conceded grudgingly.
"As a rule the people here are not over-keen on strangers, unless
they have immediate connections in the neighbourhood.  Even Griffiths,
who since they made him Commandant, is a man of many suspicions,
seems inclined to accept him."

"Captain Griffiths dined here the other night," Philippa remarked,
"and I noticed that he and Mr. Lessingham seemed to get on very well."

"The fellow's all right in his way, no doubt," Sir Henry began.

"Of course he is," Philippa interrupted.  "Helen likes him quite as
much as I do."

"Does he make love to Helen, too?" Sir Henry ventured.

"Don't talk nonsense!" Philippa retorted.  "He isn't that sort of
a man at all.  If he has made love to me, he has done so because I
have encouraged him, and if I have encouraged him, it is your fault."

Sir Henry, with an impatient exclamation, rose from his place and
took a cigarette from an open box.

"Quite time I stayed at home, I can see.  All the same, the fellow's
rather a puzzle.  I can't help wondering how he succeeded in making
such an easy conquest of a lady who has scarcely been notorious for
her flirtations, and a young woman who is madly in love with another
man.  He hasn't--"

"Hasn't what?"

"He hasn't," Sir Henry continued, blowing out the match which he
had been holding to his cigarette and throwing it away, "been in
the position of being able to render you or Helen any service, has
he?"

"I don't understand you," Philippa replied, a little uneasily.

"There's nothing to understand," Sir Henry went on.  "I was simply
trying to find some explanation for his veni, vidi, vici."

"I don't think you need go any further than the fact," Philippa
observed, "that he is well-bred, charming and companionable."

"Incidentally," Sir Henry queried, "do you happen to have come
across any one here who ever heard of him before?"

"I don't remember any one," Philippa replied.  "He was at college
with Richard, you know."

Sir Henry nodded.

"Of course, that's a wonderful introduction to you and Helen," he
admitted.  "And by-the-by, that reminds me," he went on, "I never
saw such a change in two women in my life, as in you and Helen.
A few weeks ago you were fretting yourselves to death about Dick.
Now you don't seem to mention him, you both of you look as though
you hadn't a care in the world, and yet you say you haven't heard
from him.  Upon my word, this is getting to be a house of mysteries!"

"The only mystery in it that I can see, is you, Henry," she declared.

"Me?" he protested.  "I'm one of the simplest-minded fellows alive.
What is there mysterious about me?"

"Your ignominious life," was the cold reply.

"Jove, I got it that time!" he groaned,--"got it in the neck!  But
didn't I tell you just now that I was turning over a new leaf?"

"Then prove it," Philippa pleaded.  "Let me write to Rayton and beg
him to use his influence to get you something to do.  I am sure you
would be happier, and I can't tell you what a difference it would
make to me."

"It's that indoor work I couldn't stick, old thing," he confided.
"You know, they're saying all the time it's a young man's war.
They'd make me take some one's place at home behind a desk."

"But even if they did," she protested, "even if they put you in a
coal cellar, wouldn't you be happier to feel that you were helping
your country?  Wouldn't you be glad to know that I was happier?"

Sir Henry made a wry face.

"It seems to me that your outlook is a trifle superficial, dear,"
he grumbled.  "However--now what the dickens is the matter?"

The door had been opened by Mills, with his usual smoothness, but
Jimmy Dumble, out of breath and excited, pushed his way into the
room.

"Hullo?  What is it, Jimmy?" his patron demanded.

"Beg your pardon, sir," was the almost incoherent reply.  "I've run
all the way up, and there's a rare wind blowing.  There's one of our
--our trawlers lying off the Point, and she's sent up three green
and six yellow balls."

"Whiting, by God!" Sir Henry exclaimed.

"Whiting!" Philippa repeated, in agonised disgust.  "What does this
mean, Henry?"

"It must be a shoal," her husband explained.  "It means that we've
got to get amongst them quick.  Is the Ida down on the beach, Jimmy?"

"She there all right, sir," was the somewhat doubtful reply, "but
us'll have a rare job to get away, sir.  That there nor'easter is
blowing great guns again and it's a cruel tide."

"We've got to get out somehow," Sir Henry declared.  "Mills, my
oilskins and flask at once.  I sha'n't change a thing, but you might
bring a cardigan jacket and the whisky and soda."

Mills withdrew, a little dazed.  Philippa, whose fingers were
clenched together, found her tongue at last.

"Henry!" she exclaimed furiously.

"What is it, my dear?"

"Do you mean to tell me that after your promise," she continued,
"after what you have just said, you are starting out to-night for
another fishing expedition?"

"Whiting, my dear," Sir Henry explained.  "One can't possibly miss
whiting.  Where the devil are my keys?--Here they are.  Now then."

He sat down before his desk, took some papers from the top drawer,
rummaged about for a moment or two in another, and found what seemed
to be a couple of charts in oilskin cases.  All the time the wind
was shaking the windows, and a storm of rain was beating against the
panes.

"Help yourself to whisky and soda, Jimmy," Sir Henry invited, as he
buttoned up his coat.  "You'll need it all presently."

"I thank you kindly, sir," Jimmy replied.  "I am thinking that we'll
both need a drink before we're through this night."

He helped himself to a whisky and soda on the generous principle of
half and half.  Philippa, who was watching her husband's preparations
indignantly, once more found words.

"Henry, you are incorrigible!" she exclaimed.  "Listen to me if you
please.  I insist upon it."

Sir Henry turned a little impatiently towards her.  "Philippa, I
really can't stop now," he protested.  "But you must!  You shall!"
she cried.  "You shall hear this much from me, at any rate, before
you go.  What I said the other day I repeat a thousandfold now."

Sir Henry glanced at Dumble and motioned his head towards the door.
The fisherman made an awkward exit.

"A thousandfold," Philippa repeated passionately.  "You hear, Henry?
I do not consider myself any more your wife.  If I am here when you
return, it will be simply because I find it convenient.  Your conduct
is disgraceful and unmanly."

"My dear girl!" he remonstrated.  "I may be back in twenty-four--
possibly twelve hours."

"It is a matter of indifference to me when you return," was the curt
reply.  "I have finished."

The door was thrown open.

"Your oilskins, sir, and flask," Mills announced, hurrying in, a
little breathless.  "You'll forgive my mentioning it, sir, but it
scarcely seems a fit night to leave home."

"Got to be done this once, Mills," his master replied, struggling
into his coat.

The young people from the billiard room suddenly streamed in.  Nora,
who was still carrying her cue, gazed at her father in amazement.

"Why, where's Dad going?" she cried.

"It appears," Philippa explained sarcastically, "that a shoal of
whiting has arrived."

"Very uncertain fish, whiting," Sir Henry observed, "here to-day
and gone to-morrow."

"You won't find it too easy getting off to-night, sir," Harrison
remarked doubtfully.

"Jimmy will see to that," was the confident reply.  "I expect we
shall be amongst them at daybreak.  Good-by, everybody!  Good-by,
Philippa!"

His eyes sought his wife's in vain.  She had turned towards
Lessingham.

"You are not hurrying off, are you, Mr. Lessingham?" she asked.  "I
want you to show me that new Patience."

"I shall be delighted."

Sir Henry turned slowly away.  For a moment his face darkened as
his eyes met Lessingham's.  He seemed about to speak but changed
his mind.

"Well, good-by, every one," he called out.  "I shall be back before
midnight if we don't get out."

"And if you do?" Nora cried.

"If we do, Heaven help the whiting!"



CHAPTER XV


"Of course, we're behaving shockingly, all three of us!" Philippa
declared, as she sipped her champagne and leaned back in her seat.

"You mean by coming to a place like this?" Lessingham queried,
looking around the crowded restaurant.  "We are not, in that case,
the only sinners."

"I didn't mean the mere fact of being here," Philippa explained,
"but being here with you."

"I forgot," he said gloomily, "that I was such a black sheep."

"Don't be silly," she admonished.  "You're nothing of the sort.  But,
of course, we are skating on rather thin ice.  If I had Henry to
consider in any way, if he had any sort of a career, perhaps I should
be more careful.  As it is, I think I feel a little reckless lately.
Dreymarsh has got upon my nerves.  The things that I thought most of
in life seem to have crumbled away."

"Ought I to be sorry?" he asked.  "I am not."

"But why are you so unsympathetic?"

"Because I am waiting by your side to rebuild," he whispered.

A tall, bronzed young soldier with his arm in a sling, stopped
before their table, and Helen, after a moment's protest and a
glance at Philippa, moved away with him to the little space
reserved for the dancers.

"What a chaperon I am!" Philippa sighed.  "I scarcely know anything
about the young man except his name and that he was in Dick's
regiment."

"I did not hear it," Lessingham observed, "but I feel deeply
grateful to him.  It is so seldom that I have a chance to talk to
you alone like this."

"It seems incredible that we have talked so long," Philippa said,
glancing at the watch upon her wrist.  "I really feel now that I
know all about you--your school days, your college days, and your
soldiering.  You have been very frank, haven't you?"

"I have nothing to conceal--from you," he replied.  "If there is
anything more you want to know--"

"There is nothing," she interrupted uneasily.

"Perhaps you are wise," he reflected, "and yet some day, you know,
you will have to hear it all, over and over again."

"I will not be made love to in a restaurant," she declared firmly.

"You are so particular as to localities," he complained.  "You could
not see your way clear, I suppose, to suggest what you would consider
a suitable environment?"

Philippa looked at him for a moment very earnestly.

"Ah, don't let us play at things we neither of us feel!" she begged.
"And there is some one there who wants to speak to you."

Lessingham looked up into the face of the man who had paused before
their table, as one might look into the face of unexpected death.
He remained perfectly still, but the slight colour seemed slowly
to be drawn from his cheeks.  Yet the newcomer himself seemed in
no way terrifying.  He was tall and largely built, clean-shaven,
and with the humourous mouth of an Irishman or an American.
Neither was there anything threatening in his speech.

"Glad to run up against you, Lessingham," he said, holding out his
hand.  "Gay crowd here tonight, isn't it?"

"Very," Lessingham answered, speaking very much like a man in a
dream.  "Lady Cranston, will you permit me to introduce my friend
--Mr. Hayter."

Philippa was immediately gracious, and a few moments passed in
trivial conversation.  Then Mr. Hayter prepared to depart.

"I must be joining my friends," he observed.  "Look in and see me
sometime, Lessingham--Number 72, Milan Court.  You know what a
nightbird I am.  Perhaps you will call and have a final drink
with me when you have finished here."

"I shall be very glad," Lessingham promised.

Mr. Hayter passed on, a man, apparently, of many acquaintances, to
judge by his interrupted progress.  Lady Cranston looked at her
companion.  She was puzzled.

"Is that a recent acquaintance," she asked, "as he addressed you by
the name of Lessingham?"

"Yes," was the quiet reply.

"You don't wish to talk about him?"

"No!"

Helen and her partner returned, a few moments later, and the little
party presently broke up.  Lessingham drove the two women to their
hotel in Dover Street.

"We've had a most delightful evening," Philippa assured him, as they
said good night.  "You are coming round to see us in the morning,
aren't you?"

"If I may," Lessingham assented.

Helen found her way into Philippa's room, later on that night.  She
had nerved herself for a very thankless task.

"May I sit down for a few moments?" she asked, a little nervously.
"Your fire is so much better than mine."

Philippa glanced at her friend through the looking-glass before
which she was brushing her hair, and made a little grimace.  She
felt a forewarning of what was coming.

"Of course, dear," she replied.  "Have you enjoyed your evening?"

"Very much, in a way," was the somewhat hesitating reply.  "Of
course, nothing really counts until Dick comes back, but it is nice
to talk with some one who knows him."

"Agreeable conversation," Philippa remarked didactically, "is one
of the greatest pleasures in life."

"You find Mr. Lessingham very interesting, don't you?" Helen asked.

Philippa finished arranging her hair to her satisfaction and drew
up an easy-chair opposite her visitor's.

"So you want to talk with me about Mr. Lessingham, do you?"

"I suppose you know that he's in love with you?"  Helen began.

"I hope he is a little, my dear," was the smiling reply.  "I'm
sure I've tried my best."

"Won't you talk seriously?" Helen pleaded.

"I don't altogether see the necessity," Philippa protested.

"I do, and I'll tell you why," Helen answered.  "I don't think Mr.
Lessingham is at all the type of man to which you are accustomed.
I think that he is in deadly earnest about you.  I think that he
was in deadly earnest from the first.  You don't really care for
him, do you, dear?"

"Very much, and yet not, perhaps, quite in the way you are thinking
of," was the quiet reply.

"Then please send him away," Helen begged.

"My dear, how can I?" Philippa objected.  "He has done us an
immense service, and he can't disobey his orders."

"You don't want him to go away, then?"

Philippa was silent for several moments.  "No," she admitted, "I
don't think that I do."

"You don't care for Henry any more?"

"Just as much as ever," was the somewhat bitter reply.  "That's what
I resent so much.  I should like Henry to believe that he had killed
every spark of love in me."

Helen moved across and sat on the arm of her friend's chair.  She
felt that she was going to be very daring.

"Have you any idea at the hack of your mind, dear," she asked "of
making use of Mr. Lessingham to punish Henry?"

Philippa moved a little uneasily.

"How hatefully downright you are!" she murmured.  "I don't know."

"Because," Helen continued, "if you have any such idea in your mind,
I think it is most unfair to Mr. Lessingham.  You know perfectly
well that anything else between you and him would be impossible."

"And why?"

"Don't be ridiculous!" Helen exclaimed vigorously.  "Mr. Lessingham
may have all the most delightful qualities in the world, but he has
attached himself to a country which no English man or woman will be
able to think of without shuddering, for many years to come.  You
can't dream of cutting yourself adrift from your friends and your
home and your country!  It's too unnatural!  I'm not even arguing
with you, Philippa.  You couldn't do it!  I'm wholly concerned with
Mr. Lessingham.  I cannot forget what we owe him.  I think it
would be hatefully cruel of you to spoil his life."

Philippa's flashes of seriousness were only momentary.  She made a
little grimace.  She was once more her natural, irresponsible self.

"You underrate my charm, Helen," she declared.  "I really believe
that I could make his life instead of spoiling it."

"And you would pay the price?"

Philippa, slim and elflike in the firelight, rose from her chair.
There was a momentary cruelty in her face.

"I sometimes think," she said calmly, "that I would pay any price
in the world to make Henry understand how I feel.  There, now run
along, dear.  You're full of good intentions, and don't think it
horrid of me, but nothing that you could say would make any
difference."

"You wouldn't do anything rash?" Helen pleaded.

"Well, if I run away with Mr. Lessingham, I certainly can't promise
that I'll send cards out first.  Whatever I do, impulse will probably
decide."

"Impulse!"

"Why not?  I trust mine.  Can't you?" Philippa added, with a little
shrug of the shoulders.

"Sometimes," Helen sighed, "they are such wild horses, you know.
They lead one to such terrible places."

"And sometimes," Philippa replied, "they find their way into the
heaven where our soberer thoughts could never take us.  Good
night, dear!"



CHAPTER XVI


Mr. William Hayter, in the solitude of his chambers at the Milan
Court, was a very altered personage.  He extended no welcoming
salutation to his midnight visitor but simply motioned him to a
chair.

"Well," he began, "is your task finished that you are in London?"

"My task," Lessingham replied, "might just as well never have been
entered upon.  The man you sent me to watch is nothing but an
ordinary sport-loving Englishman."

"Really!  You have lived as his neighbour for nearly a month, and
that is your impression of him?"

"It is," Lessingham assented.  "He has been away sea-fishing, half
the time, but I have searched his house thoroughly."

"Searched his papers, eh?"

"Every one I could find, and hated the job.  There are a good many
charts of the coast, but they are all for the use of the fishermen."

"Wonderful!" Hayter scoffed.  "My young friend, you may yet find
distinction in some other walk of life.  Our secret service, I
fancy, will very soon be able to dispense with your energies."

"And I with your secret service," Lessingham agreed heartily.  "I
dare say there may be some branches of it in which existence is
tolerable.  That, however, does not apply to the task upon which I
have been engaged."

"You have been completely duped," Hayter told him calmly, "and the
information you have sent us is valueless.  Sir Henry Cranston,
instead of being the type of man whom you have described, is one
of the greatest experts upon coast defense and mine-laying, in the
English Admiralty."

Lessingham laughed shortly.

"That," he declared, "is perfectly absurd."

"It is," Hayter repeated, with emphasis, "the precise truth.  Sir
Henry Cranton's fishing excursions are myths.  He is simply
transferred from his fishing boat on to one of a little fleet of
so-called mine sweepers, from which he conducts his operations.
Nearly every one of the most important towns on the east coast are
protected by minefields of his design."

Lessingham was dumbfounded.  His companion's manner was singularly
convincing.

"But how could Sir Henry or any one else keep this a secret?" he
protested.  "Even his wife is scarcely on speaking terms with him
because she believes him to be an idler, and the whole neighbourhood
gossips over his slackness."

"The whole neighbourhood is easily fooled," Hayter retorted.  "There
are one or two who know, however."

"There are one or two," Lessingham observed grimly, "who are
beginning to suspect me."

"That is a pity," Hayter admitted, "because it will be necessary
for you to return to Dreymarsh at once."

"Return to Dreymarsh at once?  But Cranston is away.  There is
nothing for me to do there in his absence."

"He will be back on Wednesday or Thursday night," was the confident
reply.  "He will bring with him the plan of his latest defenses of
a town on the east coast, which our cruiser squadron purpose to
bombard.  We must have that chart."

Lessingham listened in mute distress.

"Could you possibly get me relieved?" he begged.  "The fact is--"

"We could not, and we will not," Hayter interrupted fiercely.
"Unless you wish me to denounce you at home as a renegade and a
coward, you will go through with the work which has been allotted
to you.  Your earlier mistakes will be forgiven if that chart
is in my hands by Friday."

"But how do you know that he will have it?" Lessingham protested.
"Supposing you are right and he is really responsible for the
minefields you speak of, I should think the last thing he would
do would be to bring the chart back to Dreymarsh."

"As a matter of fact, that is precisely what he will do," Hayter
assured his listener.  "He is bringing it back for the inspection
of one of the commissioners for the east coast defense, who is
to meet him at his house.  And I wish to warn you, too, Maderstrom,
that you will have very little time.  For some reason or other,
Cranston is dissatisfied with the secrecy under which he has been
compelled to work, and has applied to the Admiralty for recognition
of his position.  Immediately this is given, I gather that his
house will be inaccessible to you."

Lessingham sat, his arms folded, his eyes fixed upon the fire.
His thoughts were in a turmoil, yet one thing was hatefully clear.
Cranston was not the unworthy slacker he had believed him to be.
Philippa's whole point of view might well be changed by this
discovery--especially now that Cranston had made up his mind to
assert himself for his wife's sake.  There was an icy fear in
his heart.

"You understand," Hayter persisted coldly, "what it is you have
to do?"

"Perfectly.  I shall return by the afternoon train," was the
despairing reply.

"If you succeed," Hayter continued, "I shall see that you get the
usual acknowledgment, but I will, if you wish it, ask for your
transfer to another branch of the service.  I am not questioning
your patriotism or your honour, Maderstrom, but you are not the
man for this work."

"You are right," Lessingham said.  "I am not."

"It is not my affair," Hayter proceeded, "to enquire too closely
into the means used by our agents in carrying out our designs.
That I find you in London in company with the wife of the man
whom you are appointed to watch, may be a fact capable of the
most complete and satisfactory explanation.  I ask no questions.
I only remind you that your country, even though it be only your
adopted country, demands from you, as from all others in her
service, unswerving loyalty, a loyalty uninfluenced by the
claims of personal sentiment, duty, or honour.  Have I said
enough?"

"You have said as much as it is wise for you to say," Lessingham
replied, his voice trembling with suppressed passion.

"That is all, then," the other concluded.  "You know where to send
or bring the chart when you have it?  If you bring it yourself, it
is possible that something which you may regard as a reward, will
be offered to you."

Lessingham rose a little wearily to his feet.  His farewell to
Hayter was cold and lifeless.

He left the hotel and started on his homeward way, struggling with
a sense of intolerable depression.  The streets through which he
passed were sombre and unlit.

A Zeppelin warning, a few hours before, had driven the people to
their homes.  There was not a chink of light to be seen anywhere.
An intense and gloomy stillness seemed to brood over the deserted
thoroughfares.  Nightbirds on their way home flitted by like
shadows.  Policemen lurked in the shadows of the houses.  The few
vehicles left crawled about with insufficient lights.  Even the
warning horns of the taxicab men sounded furtive and repressed.
Lessingham, as he marched stolidly along, felt curiously in
sympathy with his environment.  Hayter's news brought him face to
face with that inner problem which had so suddenly become the
dominant factor in his life.  For the first time he knew what love
was.  He felt the wonder of it, the far-reaching possibilities,
the strange idealism called so unexpectedly into being.  He
recognized the vagaries of Philippa's disposition, and yet,
during the last few days, he had convinced himself that she was
beginning to care.  Her strained relations with her husband had
been, without a doubt, her first incentive towards the acceptance
of his proffered devotion.  Now he told himself with eager
hopefulness that some portion of it, however minute, must be for
his own sake.  The relations between husband and wife, he reminded
himself, must, at any rate, have been strained during the last
few months, or Cranston would never have been able to keep his
secret.  In his gloomy passage through this land of ill omens,
however, he shivered a little as he thought of the other
possibility--tortured himself with imagining what might happen
during her revulsion of feeling, if Philippa discovered the truth.
A sense of something greater than he had yet known in life seemed
to lift him into some lofty state of aloofness, from which he
could look down and despise himself, the poor, tired plodder
wearing the heavy chains of duty.  There was a life so much more
wonderful, just the other side of the clouds, a very short distance
away, a life of alluring and passionate happiness.  Should he ever
find the courage, he wondered, to escape from the treadmill and
go in search of it?  Duty, for the last two years, had taken him
by the hand and led him along a pathway of shame.  He had never
been a hypocrite about the war.  He was one of those who had
acknowledged from the first that Germany had set forth, with the
sword in her hand, on a war of conquest.  His own inherited
martial spirit had vaguely approved; he, too, in those earlier
days, had felt the sunlight upon his rapier.  Later had come the
enlightenment, the turbulent waves of doubt, the nightmare of a
nation's awakening conscience, mirrored in his own soul.  It was
in a depression shared, perhaps, in a lesser degree by millions
of those whose ranks he had joined, that he felt this passionate
craving for escape into a world which took count of other things.



CHAPTER XVII


Punctually at 12 o'clock the next morning, Lessingham presented
himself at the hotel in Dover Street and was invited by the hall
porter to take a seat in the lounge.  Philippa entered, a few
minutes later, her eyes and cheeks brilliant with the brisk exercise
she had been taking, her slim figure most becomingly arrayed in
grey cloth and chinchilla.

"I lost Helen in Harrod's," she announced, "but I know she's
lunching with friends, so it really doesn't matter.  You'll have
to take care of me, Mr. Lessingham, until the train goes, if you
will."

"For even longer than that, if you will," he murmured.

She laughed.  "More pretty speeches?  I don't think I'm equal to
them before luncheon."

"This time I am literal," he explained.  "I am coming back to
Dreymarsh myself."

He felt his heart beat quicker, a sudden joy possessed him.
Philippa's expression was obviously one of satisfaction.

"I'm so glad," she assured him.  "Do you know, I was thinking only
as I came back in the taxicab, how I should miss you."

She was standing with her foot upon the broad fender, and her first
little impulse of pleasure seemed to pass as she looked into the
fire.  She turned towards him gravely.

"After all, do you think you are wise?" she asked.  "Of course, I
don't think that any one at Dreymarsh has the least suspicion, but
you know Captain Griffiths did ask questions, and--well, you're
safely away now.  You have been so wonderful about Dick, so wonderful
altogether," she went on, "that I couldn't bear it if trouble were
to come."

He smiled at her.

"I think I know what is at the back of your mind," he said.  "You
think that I am coming back entirely on your account.  As it
happens, this is not so."

She looked at him with wide-open eyes.

"Surely," she exclaimed, "you have satisfied yourself that there is
no field for your ingenuity in Dreymarsh?"

"I thought that I had," he admitted.  "It seems that I am wrong.  I
have had orders to return."

"Orders to return?" she repeated.  "From whom?"

He shook his head.

"Of course, I ought not to have asked that," she proceeded hastily,
"but it does seem odd to realise that you can receive instructions
and messages from Germany, here in London."

"Very much the same sort of thing goes on in Germany," he reminded
her.

"So they say," she admitted, "but one doesn't come into contact with
it.  So you are really coming back to Dreymarsh!"

"With you, if I may?"

"Naturally," she agreed.

He glanced at the clock.  "We might almost be starting for lunch,"
he suggested.

She nodded. "As soon as I've told Grover about the luggage."

She was absent only a few moments, and then, as it was a dry, sunny
morning, they walked down St. James Street and along Pall Mall to
the Carlton.  Philippa met several acquaintances, but Lessingham
walked with his head erect, looking neither to the right nor to the
left.

"Aren't you sometimes afraid of being recognised?" she asked him.
"There must be a great many men about of your time at Magdalen, for
instance?"

"Nine years makes a lot of difference," he reminded her, "and besides,
I have a theory that it is only when the eyes meet that recognition
really takes place.  So long as I do not look into any one's face,
I feel quite safe."

"You are sure that you would not like to go to a smaller place than
the Carlton?"

"It makes no difference," he assured her.  "My credentials have been
wonderfully established for me."

"I'm so glad," she confessed.  "I know it's most unfashionable, but
I do like these big places.  If ever I had my way, I should like to
live in London and have a cottage in the country, instead of living
in the country and being just an hotel dweller in London."

"I wonder if New York would not do?" he ventured.

"I expect I should like New York," she murmured.

"I think," he said, "in fact, I am almost sure that when I leave
here I shall go to the United States."

She looked at him and turned suddenly away.  They arrived just then
at their destination, and the moment passed.  Lessingham left his
companion in the lounge while he went back into the restaurant to
secure his table and order lunch.  When he came back, he found
Philippa sitting very upright and with a significant glitter in her
eyes.

"Look over there," she whispered, "by the palm."

He followed the direction which she indicated.  A man was standing
against one of the pillars, talking to a tall, dark woman, obviously
a foreigner, wrapped in wonderful furs.  There was something familiar
about his figure and the slight droop of his head.

"Why, it's Sir Henry!" Lessingham exclaimed, as the man turned around.

"My husband," Philippa faltered.

Sir Henry, if indeed it were he, seemed afflicted with a sudden
shortsightedness.  He met the incredulous gaze both of Lessingham
and his wife without recognition or any sign of flinching.  At that
distance it was impossible to see the tightening of his lips and
the steely flash in his blue eyes.

"The whiting seem to have brought him a long way," Philippa said,
with an unnatural little laugh.

"Shall I go and speak to him?" Lessingham asked.

"For heaven's sake, no!" she insisted.  "Don't leave me.  I wouldn't
have him come near me for anything in the world.  It is only a few
weeks ago that I begged him to come to London with me, and he said
that he hated the place.  You don't know--the woman?"

Lessingham shook his head.

"She looks like a foreigner," was all he could say.

"Take me in to lunch at once," Philippa begged, rising abruptly to
her feet.  "This is really the last straw."

They passed up the stairway and within a few feet of where Sir Henry
was standing.  He appeared absorbed, however, in conversation with
his companion, and did not even turn around.  Philippa's little
face seemed to have hardened as she took her seat.  Only her eyes
were still unnaturally bright.

"I am so sorry if this has annoyed you," Lessingham regretted.  "You
would not care to go elsewhere?"

"I?  Go anywhere else?" she exclaimed scornfully.  "Thank you, I am
perfectly satisfied here.  And with my companion," she added, with
a brilliant little smile.  "Now tell me about New York.  Have you
ever been there?"

"Twice," he told her.  "At present the dream of my life is to go
there with you."

She looked at him a little wonderingly.

"I wonder if you really care," she said.  "Men get so much into the
habit of saying that sort of thing to women.  Sometimes it seems to
me they must do a great deal of mischief.  But you--Is that really
your wish?"

"I would sacrifice everything that I have ever held dear in life,"
he declared, with his face aglow, "for its realization."

"But you would be a deserter from your country," she pointed out.
"You would never be able to return.  Your estates would be
confiscated.  You would be homeless."

"Home," he said softly, "is where one's heart takes one.  Home is
just where love is."

Her eyes, as they met his, were for a moment suspiciously soft.
Then she began to talk very quickly of other things, to compare
notes of countries which they had both visited, even of people whom
they had met.  They were obliged to leave early to catch their
train.  As they passed down the crowded restaurant they once more
found themselves within a few feet of Sir Henry.  His back was
turned to them, and he was apparently ignorant of their near
presence.  The party had become a partie Carríe, another man, and
a still younger and more beautiful woman having joined it.

"Of course," Philippa said, as they descended the stairs, "I am
behaving like an idiot.  I ought to go and tell Henry exactly what
I think of him, or pull him away in the approved Whitechapel fashion.
We lose so much, don't we, by stifling our instincts."

"For the next few minutes," he replied, glancing at his watch, "I
think we had better concentrate our attention upon catching our
train."

They reached King's Cross with only a few minutes to spare.  Grover,
however, had already secured a carriage, and Helen was waiting for
them, ensconced in a corner.  She accepted the news of Lessingham's
return with resignation.  Philippa became thoughtful as they drew
towards the close of their journey and the slow, frosty twilight
began to creep down upon the land.

"I suppose we don't really know what war is," she observed, looking
out of the window at a comfortable little village tucked away with
a background of trees and guarded by a weather-beaten old church.
"The people are safe in their homes.  You must appreciate what that
means, Mr. Lessingham."

"Indeed I do," he answered gravely.  "I have seen the earth torn
and dismembered as though by the plough of some destroying angel.
A few blackened ruins where, an hour or so before, a peaceful
village stood; men and women running about like lunatics stricken
with a mortal fear.  And all the time a red glow on the horizon, a
blood-red glow, and little specks of grey or brown lying all over
the fields; even the cattle racing round in terror. And every now
and then the cry of Death!  You are fortunate in England."

Philippa leaned forward.

"Do you believe that our turn will come?" she asked.  "Do you believe
that the wave will break over our country?"

"Who can tell?"

"Ah, no, but answer me," she begged.  "Is it possible for you to land
an army here?"

"I think," he replied, "that all things are possible to the military
genius of Germany.  The only question is whether it is worth while.
Germans are supposed to be sentimentalists, you know.  I rather doubt
it.  There is nothing would set the joybells of Berlin clanging so
much as the news of a German invasion of Great Britain.  On the other
hand, there is a great party in Germany, and a very far-seeing one,
which is continually reminding the Government that, without Great
Britain as a market, Germany would never recover from the financial
strain of the war."

"This is all too impersonal," Philippa objected.  "Do you, in your
heart, believe that the time might come when in the night we should
hear the guns booming in Dreymarsh Bay, and see your grey-clad
soldiers forming up on the beach and scaling our cliffs?"

"That will not be yet," he pronounced.  "It has been thought of.
Once it was almost attempted.  Just at present, no."

Philippa drew a sigh of relief.

"Then your mission in Dreymarsh has nothing to do with an attempted
landing?"

"Nothing," he assured her.  "I can even go a little further.  I can
tell you that if ever we do try to land, it will be in an unsuspected
place, in an unexpected fashion."

"Well, it's really very comforting to hear these things at
first-hand," Philippa declared, with some return to her usual manner.
"I suppose we are really two disgraceful women, Helen and I--traitors
and all the rest of it.  Here we sit talking to an enemy as though he
were one of our best friends."

"I refuse to be called an enemy," Lessingham protested.  "There are
times when individuality is a far greater thing than nationality.
I am just a human being, born into the same world and warmed by the
same sun as you.  Nothing can alter the fact that we are fellow
creatures."

"Dreymarsh once more," Philippa announced, looking out of the window.
"And you're a terribly plausible person, Mr. Lessingham.  Come round
and see us after dinner--if it doesn't interfere with your work."

"On the contrary," he murmured under his breath.  "Thank you very
much."



CHAPTER XVIII


Sir Henry was standing with his hands in his pockets and a very
blank expression upon his face, looking out upon the Admiralty
Square.  He was alone in a large, barely furnished apartment, the
walls of which were so hung with charts that it had almost the
appearance of a schoolroom prepared for an advanced geography
class.  The table from which he had risen was covered with an
amazing number of scientific appliances, some samples of rock and
sand, two microscopes and several telephones.

Sir Henry, having apparently exhausted the possibilities of the
outlook, turned somewhat reluctantly away to find himself
confronted by an elderly gentleman of cheerful appearance, who
at that moment had entered the room.  From the fact that he had
done so without knocking, it was obvious that he was an intimate.

"Well, my gloomy friend," the newcomer demanded, "what's wrong with
you?"

Sir Henry was apparently relieved to see his visitor.  He pushed a
chair towards him and indicated with a gesture of invitation a box
of cigars upon his desk.


"Your little Laranagas," he observed.  "Try one."

The visitor opened the box, sniffed at its contents, and helped
himself.

"Now, then, get at it, Henry," he enjoined.  "I've a Board in
half-an-hour, and three dispatches to read before I go in.  What's
your trouble?"

"Look here, Rayton," was the firm reply, "I want to chuck this
infernal hole-and-corner business.  I tell you I've worked it
threadbare at Dreymarsh and it's getting jolly uncomfortable."

The newcomer grinned.

"Poor chap!" he observed, watching his cigar smoke curl upwards.
"You're in a nasty mess, you know, Henry.  Did I tell you that I
had a letter from your wife the other day, asking me if I couldn't
find you a job?"

Sir Henry waited a little grimly, whilst his friend enjoyed the
joke.

"That's all very well," he said, "but we are on the point of a
separation, or something of the sort.  I'll admit it was all right
at first to run the thing on the Q.T., but that's pretty well busted
up by now.  Why, according to your own reports, they know all about
me on the other side."

"Not a doubt about it," the other agreed.  "I'm not sure that you
haven't got a spy fellow down at Dreymarsh now."

"I'm quite sure of it," Sir Henry replied grimly.  "The brute was
lunching with my wife at the Carlton to-day, and, as luck would
have it, I was landed with that Russian Admiral's wife and
sister-in-law.  You're breaking up the happy home, that's what
you're doing, Rayton!"

His lordship at any rate seemed to find the process amusing.  He
laughed until the tears stood in his eyes.

"I should love to have seen Philippa's face," he chuckled, "when
she walked into the restaurant and saw you there!  You're supposed
to be off on a fishing expedition, aren't you?"

"I went out after whiting," Sir Henry groaned, "and I'd just promised
to chuck it for a time when I got the Admiral's message."

"Well, we'll see to your German spy, anyway," his visitor promised.

"Don't be an ass!" Sir Henry exclaimed irritably.  "I don't want the
fellow touched at present.  Why, he's been a sort of persona grata
at my house.  Hangs around there all the time when I'm away."

"All the more reason for putting an end to his little game, I should
say," was the cheerful reply.

"And have the whole neighbourhood either laughing at my wife and
Miss Fairclough, or talking scandal about them!" Sir Henry retorted.

"I forgot that," his friend confessed ruminatively.  "He's a
gentlemanly sort of fellow, from what I hear, but a rotten spy.
What do you want done with him?"

"Leave him for me to deal with," Sir Henry insisted.  "I have a
little scheme on hand in which he is concerned."

Rayton scratched his chin doubtfully.

"The fellow may not be such a fool as he seems," he reminded his
friend.

"I won't run any risks," Sir Henry promised.  "I just want him left
there, that's all.  And look here, Rayton, you know what I want from
you.  I quite agreed to your proposals as to my anonymity at the
time when I was up in Scotland, but the thing's a secret no longer
with the people who count.  Every one in Germany knows that I'm a
mine-field specialist, so I don't see why the dickens I should pose
any longer as a sort of half-baked idiot."

Rayton's eyes twinkled.

"You want to play the Wilson Barrett hero and make a theatrical
disclosure of your greatness," he laughed.  "Poor Philippa will
fall upon her knees.  You will be the hero of the village, which
will probably present you with some little article of plate.  You've
a good time coming, Henry."

"Talk sense, there's a good fellow," the other begged.  "You go and
see the Chief and put it to him.  There isn't a single reason why I
shouldn't own up now."

"I'll see what I can do," Rayton promised, "but what about this
fellow Lessingham, or whatever else he calls himself, down there?
There's a chap named Griffiths--Commandant, isn't he?--been
writing us about him."

"I won't have Lessingham touched," Sir Henry insisted.  "He can't
do any particular harm down there, and there isn't a line or a
drawing of mine down at Dreymarsh which he isn't welcome to."

Lord Rayton rose to his feet.

"Look here, Henry, old fellow," he said, "I do sympathise with you
up to a certain point.  I tell you what I'll do.  I shall have to
answer Philippa's letter, and I'll answer it in such a way that if
she is as clever a little woman as I think she is, she'll get a hint.
Of course," he went on ruminatively, "it is rather a misfortune that
the Princess Ollaneff and her sister are such jolly good-looking
women.  Makes it look a little fishy, doesn't it?  What I mean to
say is, it's a far cry from fishing for whiting in the North Sea to
lunching with a beautiful princess at the Carlton--when you think
your wife's down in Norfolk."

Sir Henry threw open the door.

"Look here, I've had enough of you, Rayton," he declared.  "You get
back and do an hour's work, if you can bring your mind to it."

The latter assumed a sudden dignity, necessitated by the sound of
voices in the corridor, and departed.  The door had scarcely been
closed when two younger men presented themselves--Miles Ensol, Sir
Henry's secretary, a typical-looking young sailor minus his left
arm; and a pale-faced, clean-shaven man of uncertain age, in civilian
clothes.  Sir Henry shook hands with the latter and pointed to the
easy-chair which his previous visitor had just vacated.

"Welcome back again, Horridge," he said cordially.  "Miles, I'll
ring when I want you."

"Very good, sir," the secretary replied.  "There's a fisherman from
Norfolk downstairs, when you're at liberty."

Sir Henry nodded.

"I'll see him presently.  Shut him up somewhere where he can smoke."

The young man withdrew, carefully closing the door, around which Sir
Henry, with a word of apology, arranged a screen.

"I don't think," he explained, "that eavesdropping extends to these
premises, or that our voices could reach outside.  Still, a ha'porth
of prevention, eh?  Have a cigar, Horridge."

"I'm not smoking for a day or two, thank you, sir."

"You look as though they'd put you through it," Sir Henry remarked.

His visitor smiled.

"I've travelled fourteen miles in a barrel," he said, "and we were
out for twenty-four hours in a Danish sailing skiff.  You know what
the weather's been like in the North Sea.  Before that, the last
word of writing I saw on German soil was a placard, offering a
reward of five thousand marks for my detention, with a disgustingly
lifelike photograph at the top.  I had about fifty yards of quay to
walk in broad daylight, and every other man I passed turned to stare
after me.  It gives you the cold shivers down your back when you
daren't look round to see if you're being followed."

Sir Henry groped in the cupboard of his desk, and produced a bottle
of whisky and a syphon of soda water.  His visitor nodded approvingly.

"I've touched nothing until I've reached what I consider sanctuary,"
he observed.  "My nerves have gone rotten for the first time in my
life.  Do you mind, sir, if I lock the door?"

"Go ahead," Sir Henry assented.

He brought the whisky and soda himself across the room.  Horridge
resumed his seat and held out his hand almost eagerly.  For a moment
or two he shook as though he had an ague.  Then, just as suddenly as
it had come upon him, the fit passed.  He drained the contents of the
tumbler at a gulp, set it down empty by his side, and stretched out
his hand for a cigar.

"The end of my journey didn't help matters any," he went on.  "I
daren't even make for a Dutch port, and we were picked up eventually
by a tramp steamer from Newcastle to London with coals.  I hadn't
been on board more than an hour before a submarine which had been
following overhauled us.  I thought it was all up then, but the fog
lifted, and we found ourselves almost in the midst of a squadron of
destroyers from Harwich.  I made another transfer, and they landed
me in time to catch the early morning train from Felixstowe."

"Did they get the submarine?" his listener asked eagerly.

"Get it!" the other repeated, with a smile.  "They blew it into
scrap metal."

"Plenty of movement in your life!"

"I've run the gauntlet over there once too often," Horridge said
grimly.  "Just look at me now, Sir Henry.  I'm twenty-nine years old,
and it's only two years and a half since I was invalided out of the
navy and took this job on.  The last person I asked to guess my age
put me down at fifty.  What should you have said?"

"Somewhere near it," was the candid admission.  "Never mind, Horridge,
you've done your bit.  You shall pass on your experience to a new
hand, take your pension and try the south coast of England for a few
months.  Now let's get on with it.  You know what I want to hear
about."

Horridge produced from his pocket a long strip of paper.

"They're there, sir," he announced, "coaled to the scuppers, every
man standing to stations and steam up.  There's the list."

He handed the paper across to Sir Henry, who glanced it down.

"The fast cruiser squadron," he observed.  "Hm!  Three new ships we
haven't any note of.  No transports, then, Horridge?'"

"Not a sign of one, sir," was the reply.  "They're after a
bombardment."

He rose to his feet, walked to a giant map of England, and touched a
certain port on the east coast.  Sir Henry's eyes glistened.

"You're sure?"

"It is a certainty," Horridge replied.  "I've been on three of those
ships.  I've dined with four of the officers.  They're under sealed
orders, and the crew believes that they're going to escort out half
a dozen commerce destroyers.  But I have the truth.  That's their
objective," Horridge repeated, touching once more the spot upon the
map, "and they are waiting just for one thing."

Sir Henry smiled thoughtfully.

"I know what they're waiting for," he said.  "Perhaps if they'd a
Herr Horridge to send over here for it, they'd have got it before
now.  As it is--well, I'm not sure," he went on.  "It seems a pity
to disappoint them, doesn't it?  I'd love to give them a run for
their money."

Horridge smiled faintly.  He knew a good deal about his companion.

"They're spoiling for it, sir," he admitted.  Sir Henry spoke down
a telephone and a few minutes later Ensol reappeared.

"Find Mr. Horridge a comfortable room," his chief directed, "and
one of our confidential typists.  You can make out your report at
your leisure," he went on.  "Come in and see me when it's all
finished."

"Certainly, sir," Horridge replied, rising.

Sir Henry held out his hand.  He looked with something like wonder
at the nerve-shattered man who had risen to his feet with a certain
air of briskness.

"Horridge," he said, "I wish I had your pluck."

"I don't know any one in the service from whom you need borrow any,
sir," was the quiet reply.



CHAPTER XIX


Lessingham sat upon a fallen tree on Dutchman's Common near the
scene of his romantic descent, and looked rather ruefully over the
moorland, seawards.  Above him, the sky was covered with little
masses of quickly scudding clouds.  A fugitive and watery sunshine
shone feebly upon a wind-tossed sea and a rain-sodden landscape.
He found a certain grim satisfaction in comparing the
disorderliness of the day with the tumult in his own life.  He felt
that he had embarked upon an enterprise greater than his capacity,
for which he was in many ways entirely unsuitable.  And behind him
was the scourge of the telegram which he had received a few hours
ago, a telegram harmless enough to all appearance, but which,
decoded, was like a scourge to his back.

Your work is unsatisfactory and your slackness deserves reprobation.
Great events wait upon you.  The object of your search is necessary
for our imminent operations.

The sound of a horse's hoofs disturbed him.  Captain Griffiths, on
a great bay mare, glanced curiously at the lonely figure by the
roadside, and then pulled up.

"Back again, Mr. Lessingham?" he remarked.

"As you see."

The Commandant fidgeted with his horse for a moment.  Then he
approached a little nearer to Lessingham's side.

"You are a good walker, I perceive, Mr. Lessingham," he remarked.

"When the fancy takes me," was the equable reply.

"Have you come out to see our new guns?"

"I had no idea," Lessingham answered indifferently, "that you had
any."

Griffiths smiled.

"We have a small battery of anti-aircraft guns, newly arrived from
the south of England," he said.  "The secret of their coming and
their locality has kept the neighbourhood in a state of ferment for
the last week."

Lessingham remained profoundly uninterested.

"They most of them spotted the guns," his companion continued, "but
not many of them have found the searchlights yet."

"It seems a little late in the year," Lessingham observed, "to be
making preparations against Zeppelins."

"Well, they cross here pretty often, you know," Griffiths reminded
him.  "It's only a matter of a few weeks ago that one almost came to
grief on this common.  We picked up their observation car not fifty
yards from where you are sitting."

"I remember hearing about it," Lessingham acknowledged.

"By-the-by," the Commandant continued, smoothing his horse's neck,
"didn't you arrive that evening or the evening after?"

"I believe I did."

"Liverpool Street or King's Cross?  The King's Cross train was very
nearly held up."

"I didn't come by train at all," Lessingham replied, glancing for a
moment into the clouds, "And now I come to think of it, it must have
been the evening after."

"Fine county for motoring," Griffiths continued, stroking his
horse's head.

"The roads I have been on seem very good," was the somewhat bored
admission.

"You haven't a car of your own here, have you?"

"Not at present."

Captain Griffiths glanced between his horse's ears for a few moments.
Then he turned once more towards his companion.

"Mr. Lessingham," he said, "you are aware that I am Commandant here?"

"I believe," Lessingham replied, "that Lady Cranston told me so."

"It is my duty, therefore," Griffiths went on, "to take a little
more than ordinary interest in casual visitors, especially at this
time of the year.  The fact that you are well-known to Lady Cranston
is, of course, an entirely satisfactory explanation of your presence
here.  At the same time, there is certain information concerning
strangers of which we keep a record, and in your case there is a line
or two which we have not been able to fill up."

"If I can be of any service," Lessingham murmured.

"Precisely," the other interrupted.  "I knew you would feel like
that.  Now your arrival here--we have the date, I think--October
6th.  As you have just remarked, you didn't come by train.  How did
you come?"

Lessingham's surprise was apparently quite genuine.

"Is that a question which you ask me to answer--officially?" he
enquired.

His interlocutor shrugged his shoulders.

"I am not putting official questions to you at all," he replied,
"nor am I cross-examining you, as might be my duty, under the
circumstances, simply because your friendship with the Cranstons
is, of course, a guarantee as to your position.  But on the other
hand, I think it would be reasonable if you were to answer my
question."

Lessingham nodded.

"Perhaps you are right," he admitted.  "As you can tell by finding
me here this afternoon, I am a great walker.  I arrived--on foot."

"I see," Griffiths reflected.  "The other question which we usually
ask is, where was your last stopping place?"

"Stopping place?" Lessingham murmured.

"Yes, where did you sleep the night before you came here?" Griffiths
persisted.

Lessingham shook his head as though oppressed by some distasteful
memory.

"But I did not sleep at all," he complained.  "It was one of the
worst nights which I have ever spent in my life."

Captain Griffiths gathered up his reins.

"Well," he said with clumsy sarcasm, "I am much obliged to you, Mr.
Lessingham, for the straight-forward way in which you have answered
my questions.  I won't bother you any more just at present.  Shall
I see you to-morrow night at Mainsail Haul?"

"Lady Cranston has asked me to dine," was the somewhat reserved reply.

His inquisitor nodded and cantered away.  Lessingham looked after him
until he had disappeared, then he turned his face towards Dreymarsh
and walked steadily into the lowering afternoon.  Twilight was falling
as he reached Mainsail Haul, where he found Philippa entertaining some
callers, to whom she promptly introduced him.  Lessingham gathered,
almost in the first few minutes, that his presence in Dreymarsh was
becoming a subject of comment.

"My husband has played bridge with you at the club, I think," a lady
by whose side he found himself observed.  "You perhaps didn't hear
my name--Mrs. Johnson?"

"I congratulate you upon your husband," Lessingham replied.  "I
remember him perfectly well because he kept his temper when I
revoked."

"Dear me!" she exclaimed.  "He must have taken a fancy to you, then.
As a rule, they rather complain about him at bridge."

"I formed the impression," Lessingham continued, "that he was rather
a better player than the majority of the performers there."

Mrs. Johnson, who was a dark and somewhat forbidding-looking lady,
smiled.

"He thinks so, at any rate," she conceded.  "Didn't he tell me that
you were invalided home from the front?"

Lessingham shook his head.

"I am quite sure that it was not mentioned," he said.  "We walked
home together as far as the hotel one evening, but we spoke only of
the golf and some shooting in the neighbourhood."

Philippa, who had been maneuvering to attract Lessingham's attention,
suddenly dropped the cake basket which she was passing.  There was
a little commotion.  Lessingham went down on his hands and knees to
help collect the fragments, and she found an opportunity to whisper
in his ear.

"Be careful.  That woman is a cat.  Stay and talk to me.  Please
don't bother, Mr. Lessingham.  Won't you ring the bell instead?"
she continued, raising her voice.

Lessingham did as he was asked, and affected not to notice Mrs.
Johnson's inviting smile as he returned.  Philippa made room for
him by her side.

"Helen and I were talking this afternoon, Mr. Lessingham," she said,
"of the days when you and Dick were both in the Magdalen Eleven and
both had just a chance of being chosen for the Varsity.  You never
played, did you?"

He shook his head.

"No such luck.  In any case, Richard would have been in well before
me.  I always maintained that he was the first of our googlie
bowlers."

"So you were at Magdalen with Major Felstead?" another caller
remarked in mild wonder.

"Mr. Lessingham and my brother were great friends," Philippa
explained.  "Mr. Lessingham used to come down to shoot in Cheshire."

Lady Cranston's guests were all conscious of a little indefinable
disappointment.  The gossip concerning this stranger's appearance
in Dreymarsh was practically strangled.  Mrs. Johnson, however, fired
a parting shot as she rose to go.

"You were not in the same regiment as Major Felstead, were you, Mr.
Lessingham?" she asked.  "No," he answered calmly.

Philippa was busy with her adieux.  Mrs. Johnson remained indomitable.

"What was your regiment, Mr. Lessingham?" she persisted.  "You must
forgive my seeming inquisitive, but I am so interested in military
affairs."

Lessingham bowed courteously.

"I do not remember alluding to my soldiering at all," he said coolly,
"but as a matter of fact I am in the Guards."

Mrs. Johnson accepted Philippa's hand and the inevitable.  Her
good-by to Lessingham was most affable.  She walked up the road with
the vicar.

"I think, Vicar," she said severely, "that for a small place,
Dreymarsh is becoming one of the worst centres of gossip I ever knew.
Every one has been saying all sorts of unkind things about that
charming Mr. Lessingham, and there you are--Major Felstead's friend
and a Guardsman!  Somehow or other, I felt that he belonged to one
of the crack regiments.  I shall certainly ask him to dinner one
night next week."

The vicar nodded benignly.  He had the utmost respect for Mrs.
Johnson's cook, and his own standard of social desirability, to
which the object of their discussion had attained.

"I should be happy to meet Mr. Lessingham at any time," he
pronounced, with ample condescension.  "I noticed him in church
last Sunday morning."



CHAPTER XX


"My dear man, whatever shall I do with you!" Philippa exclaimed
pathetically, as the door closed upon the last of her callers.
"The Guards, indeed!"

Lessingham smiled as he resumed his place by her side.

"Well," he said, "I told the dear lady the truth.  You will find my
name well up in the list of the thirty-first battalion of the
Prussian Guards."

She threw herself back in her chair and laughed.  "How amusing it
would be if it weren't all so terrible!  You really are a perfect
political Raffles.  Do you know that this afternoon you have
absolutely reestablished yourself?  Mr. Johnson will probably call
on you to-morrow--they may even ask you to dine--the vicar will
write and ask for a subscription, and Dolly Fenwick will invite you
to play golf with her."

"Do not turn my head," he begged.

"All the same," Philippa continued, more gravely, "I shall never
have a moment's peace whilst you are in the place.  I was thinking
about you last night.  I don't believe I have ever realised before
how terrible it would be if you really were discovered.  What would
they do to you?"

"Whatever they might do," he replied, a little wearily, "I must
obey orders.  My orders are to remain here, but even if I were told
that I might go, I should find it hard."

"Do you mean that?" she asked.

"I think you know," he answered.

"You men are so strange," she went on, after a moment's pause.
"You give us so little time to know you, you show us so little of
yourselves and you expect so much."

"We offer everything," he reminded her.

"I want to avoid platitudes," she said thoughtfully, "but is love
quite the same thing for a man as for a woman?"

"Sometimes it is more," was the prompt reply.  "Sometimes love, for
a woman, means only shelter; often, for a man, love means the
blending of all knowledge, of all beauty, all ambition, of all that
he has learned from books and from life.  Sometimes a man can see
no further and needs to look no further."

Philippa suddenly felt that she was in danger.  There was something
in her heart of which she had never before been conscious, some
music, some strange turn of sentiment in Lessingham's voice or
the words themselves.  It was madness, she told herself breathlessly.
She was in love with her husband, if any one.  She could not have
lost all feeling for him so soon.  She clasped her hands tightly.
Lessingham seemed conscious of his advantage, and leaned towards
her.

"If I were not offering you my whole life," he pleaded, "believe
me, I would not open my lips.  If I were thinking of episodes, I
would throw myself into the sea before I asked you to give me even
your fingers.  But you, and you alone, could fill the place in my
life which I have always prayed might be filled, not for a year or
even a decade of years, but for eternity."

"Oh, but you forget!" she faltered.

"I remember so much," he replied, "that I know it is hard for you
to speak.  There are bonds which you have made sacred, and your
fingers shrink from tearing them asunder.  If it were not for this,
Philippa--hear the speech of a renegade--my mandate should be torn
in pieces.  My instructions should flutter into the waste-paper
basket, To-morrow should see us on our way to a new country and a
new life.  But you must be very sure indeed."

"Is it because of me that you are staying here?" she asked.

"Upon my honour, no," he assured her.  "I must stay here a little
longer, whatever it may mean for me.  And so I am content to remain
what I am to you at this minute.  I ask from you only that you
remain just what you are.  But when the moment of my freedom comes,
when my task here is finished and I turn to go, then I must come
to you."

She rose suddenly to her feet, crossed the floor, and threw open
the window.  The breeze swept through the room, flapping the
curtains, blowing about loose articles into a strange confusion.
She stood there for several moments, as though in search of some
respite from the emotional atmosphere upon which she had turned
her back.  When she finally closed the window, her hair was in
little strands about her face.  Her eyes were soft and her lips
quivering.

"You make me feel," she said, taking his hand for a moment and
looking at him almost piteously, "you make me feel everything except
one thing."

"Except one thing?" he repeated.

"Can't you understand?" she continued, stretching out her hand with
a quick, impulsive little movement.  "I am here in Henry's house,
his wife, the mistress of his household.  All the years we've been
married I have never thought of another man.  I have never indulged
in even the idlest flirtation.  And now suddenly my life seems
upside down.  I feel as though, if Henry stood before me now, I
would strike him on the cheek.  I feel sore all over, and ashamed,
but I don't know whether I have ceased to love him.  I can't tell.
Nothing seems to help me.  I close my eyes and I try to think of
that new world and that new life, and I know that there is nothing
repulsive in it.  I feel all the joy and the strength of being with
you.  And then there is Henry in the background.  He seems to have
had so much of my love."

He saw the tears gathering in her eyes, and he smiled at her
encouragingly.

"Remember that at this moment I am asking you for nothing," he said.
"Just think these things out.  It isn't really a matter for sorrow,"
he continued.  "Love must always mean happiness--for the one who
is loved."

She leaned hack in the corner of the sofa to which he had led her,
her eyes dry now but still very soft and sweet.  He sat by her side,
fingering some of the things in her work basket.  Once she held out
her hand and seemed to find comfort in his clasp.  He raised her
fingers to his lips without any protest from her.  She looked at
him with a little smile.

"You know, I'm not at all an Ibsen heroine," she declared.  "I can't
see my way like those wonderful emancipated women."

"Yet," he said thoughtfully, "the way to the simple things is so
clear."

Confidences were at an end for a time, broken up by the entrance of
Nora and Helen, and some young men from the Depot, who had looked
in for a game of billiards.  Lessingham rose to leave as soon as the
latter had returned to their game.  His tone and manner now were
completely changed.  He seemed ill at ease and unhappy.

"I am going to have a day's fishing to-morrow," he told Philippa,
"but I must admit that I have very little faith in this man Oates.
They all tell me that your husband has any number of charts of the
coast.  Do you think I could borrow one?"

"Why, of course," she replied, "if we can find it."

She took him over to her husband's desk, opened such of the drawers
as were not locked, and searched amongst their contents ruthlessly.
By the time they had finished the last drawer, Lessingham had quite a
little collection of charts, more or less finished, in his hand.

"I don't know where else to look," she said.  "You might go through
those and see if they are of any use.  What is it, Mills?" she added,
turning to the door.

Mills had entered noiselessly, and was watching the proceedings at
Sir Henry's desk with a distinct lack of favour.  He looked away
towards his mistress, however, as he replied.

"The young woman has called with reference to a situation as
parlour-maid, your ladyship," he announced.  "I have shown her into
the sewing room."  Lady Cranston glanced at the clock.

"I sha'n't be more than five or ten minutes," she promised Lessingham.
"Just look through those till I come back."

She hurried away, leaving Lessingham alone in the room.  He stood
for a moment listening.  On the left-hand side, through the door
which had been left ajar, he could hear the click of billiard balls
and occasional peals of laughter.  On the right-hand side there was
silence.  He moved swiftly across the room and closed the door leading
into the billiard room, deposited on the sofa the charts which he had
been carrying, and hurried back to the secretary.  With a sickening
feeling of overwhelming guilt, he drew from his pocket a key and
opened, one by one, the drawers through which they had not searched.
It took him barely five minutes to discover--nothing.  With an air
of relief he rearranged everything.  When Philippa returned, he was
sitting on the lounge, going through the charts which they had
looked out together.

"Well?" she asked.

"There is nothing here," he decided, "which will help me very much.
With your permission I will take this," he added, selecting one at
random.

She nodded and they replaced the others.  Then she touched him on
the arm.

"Listen," she said, "are you perfectly certain that there is no one
coming?"

He listened for a moment.

"I can't hear any one," he answered.  "They've started a four-handed
game of pool in the billiard room."

She smiled.

"Then I will disclose to you Henry's dramatic secret.  See!"

She touched the spring in the side of the secretary.  The false back,
with its little collection of fishing flies, rolled slowly up.  The
large and very wonderful chart on which Sir Henry had bestowed so
much of his time, was revealed.  Lessingham gazed at it eagerly.

"There!" she said.  "That has been a great labour of love with
Henry.  It is the chart, on a great scale, from which he works.  I
don't know a thing about it, and for heaven's sake never tell Henry
that you have seen it."

He continued to examine the chart earnestly.  Not a part of it
escaped him.  Then he turned back to Philippa.

"Is that supposed to be the coast on the other side of the point?"
he asked.

"I don't exactly know where it is," she replied.  "Every time Henry
finds out anything new, he comes and works at it.  I believe that
very soon it will be perfect.  Then he will start on another part of
the coast."

"This is not the only one that he has prepared, then?" Lessingham
enquired.

She shook her head.

"I believe it is the fifth," she replied.  "They all disappear when
they are finished, but I have no idea where to.  To me they seem to
represent a shocking waste of time."

Lessingham was suddenly taciturn.  He held out his hand.  "You are
dining with us to-morrow night, remember," she said.

"I am not likely to forget," he assured her.

"And don't get drowned," she concluded.  "I don't know any of these
fishermen--I hate them all--but I'm told that Oates is the worst."

"I think that we shall be quite all right," he assured her.  "Thanks
very much for finding me the charts.  What I have seen will help me."

Helen came in for a moment and their farewell was more or less
perfunctory.  Lessingham was almost thankful to escape.  There was
an unusual flush in his cheeks, a sense of bitter humiliation in his
heart.  All the fervour with which he had started on his perilous
quest had faded away.  No sense of duty or patriotism could revive
his drooping spirits.  He felt himself suddenly an unclean and
dishonoured being.



CHAPTER XXI


Towards three o'clock on the following afternoon, the boisterous
wind of an uncertain morning settled down to worse things.  It tore
the spray from the crest of the gathering waves, dashed it even
against the French windows of Mainsail Haul, and came booming down
the open spaces cliffwards, like the rumble of some subterranean
artillery.  A little group of fishermen in oilskins leaned over the
railing and discussed the chances of Ben Oates bringing his boat
in safely.  Philippa, also, distracted by a curious anxiety, stood
before the blurred window, gazing into what seemed almost a grey
chaos.  "Captain Griffiths, your ladyship."

She turned around quickly at the announcement.  Even an unwelcome
caller at that moment was almost a relief to her.

"How nice of you to come and see me on such an afternoon, Captain
Griffiths," she exclaimed, as they shook hands.  "Helen is over at
the Canteen, Nora is hard at work for once in her life, and I seem
most dolefully alone."

Her visitor's reception of Philippa's greeting promised little in
the way of enlivenment.  He seemed more awkward and ill at ease than
ever, and his tone was almost threatening.

"I am very glad to find you alone, Lady Cranston," he said.  "I came
specially to have a few words with you on a certain matter."

Her momentary impulse of relief at his visit passed away.  There
seemed to her something sinister in his manner.  She was suddenly
conscious that there was a new danger to be faced, and that this
man's attitude towards her was, for some reason or other, inimical.
After the first shock, however, she prepared herself to do battle.

"Well, you seem very mysterious," she observed.  "I haven't broken
any laws, have I?  No lights flashing from any of my windows?"

"So far as I am aware, there are no complaints of the sort," the
Commandant acknowledged, still speaking with an unnatural restraint.
"My call, I hope, may be termed, to some extent, at least, a
friendly one."

"How nice!" she sighed.  "Then you'll have some tea, won't you?"

"Not at present, if you please," he begged.  "I have come to talk
to you about Mr. Hamar Lessingham."

"Really?" Philippa exclaimed.  "Whatever has that poor man been
doing now."

"Dreymarsh," her visitor proceeded, "having been constituted, during
the last few months, a protected area, it is my duty to examine and
enquire into the business of any stranger who appears here.  Mr. Hamar
Lessingham has been largely accepted without comment, owing to his
friendship with you.  I regret to state, however, that certain facts
have come to my knowledge which make me wonder whether you yourself
may not in some measure have been deceived."

"This sounds very ridiculous," Philippa interposed quietly.

"A few weeks ago," Captain Griffith continued, "we received
information that this neighbourhood would probably be visited by
some person connected with the Secret Service of Germany.  There is
strong evidence that the person in question is Mr. Hamar Lessingham."

"A graduate of Magdalen, my brother's intimate friend, and a frequent
visitor at my father's house in Cheshire," Philippa observed, with
faint sarcasm.

"The possibility of your having made a mistake, Lady Cranston,"
Captain Griffiths rejoined, "has, I must confess, only just occurred
to me.  The authorities at Magdalen College have been appealed to,
and no one of the name of Lessingham was there during any one of
your brother's terms."

Philippa took the blow well.  She simply stared at her caller in a
noncomprehending manner.

"We have also information," he continued gravely, "from Wood Norton
Hall--from your mother, in fact, Lady Cranston--that no college
friend of your brother, of that name, has ever visited Wood Norton."

"Go on," Philippa begged, a little faintly.  "Did I ever live there
myself?  Was Richard ever at Magdalen?"

Captain Griffiths proceeded with the air of a man who has a task to
finish and intends to do so, regardless of interruptions.

"I have had some conversation with Mr. Lessingham, in the course of
which I asked him to explain his method of reaching here, and his
last habitation.  He simply fenced with me in the most barefaced
fashion.  He practically declined to give me any account of himself."

Philippa rose and rang the bell.

"I suppose I must give you some tea," she said, "although you seem
to have come here on purpose to make my head ache."

"My object in coming here," Captain Griffiths rejoined, a little
stiffly, "is to save you some measure of personal annoyance."

"Oh, please don't think that I am ungrateful," Philippa begged.
"Of course, it is all some absurd mistake, and I'm sure we shall get
to the bottom of it presently--Tell me what you think of the storm?"
she added, as Mills entered with the tea tray.  "Do you think it
will get any worse, because I am terrified to death already?"

"I am no judge of the weather here," he confessed.  "I believe the
fishermen are preparing for something unusual."

She seated herself before the tea tray and insisted upon performing
her duties as hostess.  Afterwards she laid her hand upon his arm
and addressed him with an air of complete candour.

"Now, Captain Griffiths," she began, "do listen to me.  Just one
moment of common sense, if you please.  What do you suppose there
could possibly be in our harmless seaside village to induce any one
to risk his life by coming here on behalf of the Secret Service of
Germany?"

"Dreymarsh," Captain Griffiths replied, "was not made a prohibited
area for nothing."

"But, my dear man, be reasonable," Philippa persisted.  "There are
perhaps a thousand soldiers in the place, the usual preparations
along the cliff for coast defence, a small battery of anti-aircraft
guns, and a couple of searchlights.  There isn't a grocer's boy in
the place who doesn't know all this.  There's no concealment about
it.  You must admit that Germany doesn't need to send over a Secret
Service agent to acquaint herself with these insignificant facts."

Her visitor smiled very faintly.  It was the first time he had
relaxed even so far as this.

"I am not in possession of any information which I can impart to you,
Lady Cranston," he said, "but I am not prepared to accept your
statement that Dreymarsh contains nothing of greater interest than
the things which you have mentioned."

There was no necessity for Philippa to play a part now.  The
suggestion contained in her visitor's words had really left her in
a state of wonder.

"You are making my flesh creep!" she exclaimed.  "You don't mean to
say that we have secrets here?"

"I have said the last word which it is possible for me to say upon
the subject," he declared.  "You will understand, I am sure, that
I am not here in the character of an inquisitor.  I simply thought
it my duty, in view of the fact that you had made yourself the
social sponsor for Mr. Lessingham, to place certain information
before you, and to ask, unofficially, of course, if you have any
explanation to give?  You may even," he went on, hesitatingly,
"appreciate the motives which led me to do so."

"My dear man, what explanation could I have?" Philippa protested,
"it is an absolute and undeniable fact that Mr. Lessingham was at
Magdalen with my brother, and also that he visited us at Wood
Norton.  I know both these things of my own knowledge.  The only
possible explanation, therefore, is that you have been misinformed."

"Or," Captain Griffiths ventured, "that Mr. Hamar Lessingham in
those days passed under another name."

"Another name?" Philippa faltered.

"Some such name, perhaps," he continued, "as Bertram Maderstrom."

There was a short silence.  Captain Griffiths had leaned back in
his chair and was caressing his upper lip.  His eyes were fixed
upon Philippa and Philippa saw nothing.  Her little heel dug hard
into the carpet.  In a few seconds the room ceased to spin.
Nevertheless, her voice sounded to her pitifully inadequate.

"What an absurdity all this is!" she exclaimed.

"Maderstrom," Captain Griffiths said thoughtfully, "was, curiously
enough, an intimate college friend of your brother's.  He was also
a visitor at Wood Norton Hall.  At neither place is there any trace
of Mr. Hamar Lessingham.  Perhaps you have made a mistake, Lady
Cranston.  Perhaps you have recognised the man and failed to remember
his name.  If so, now is the moment to declare it."

"I am very much obliged to you," Philippa retorted, "but I have
never met or heard of this Mr. Maderstrom--"

"Baron Maderstrom," he interrupted.

"Baron Maderstrom, then, in my life; whereas Mr. Lessingham I
remember perfectly."

"I am sorry," Captain Griffiths said, setting down his empty teacup
and rising slowly to his feet.  "We cannot help one another, then."

"If you want me to transfer Mr. Lessingham, whom I remember
perfectly, into a German baron whom I never heard of," Philippa
declared boldly, "I am afraid that we can't."

"Baron Maderstrom was a Swedish nobleman," Captain Griffiths observed.

"Swedish or German, I know nothing of him," Philippa persisted.

"There remains, then, nothing more to be said."

"I am afraid not," Philippa agreed sweetly.

"Under the circumstances," Captain Griffiths asked, "you will not,
I am sure, expect me to dine to-night."

"Not if you object to meeting Mr. Hamar Lessingham," Philippa
replied.

Her visitor's face suddenly darkened, and Philippa wondered vaguely
whether anything more than professional suspicion was responsible
for that little storm of passion which for a moment transformed
his appearance.  He quickly recovered, however.

"I may still," he concluded, moving towards the door, "be forced to
present myself here in another capacity."



CHAPTER XXII


The confinement of the house, after the departure of her unwelcome
visitor, stifled Philippa.  Attired in a mackintosh, with a scarf
around her head, she made her way on to the quay, and, clinging to
the railing, dragged herself along to where the fishermen were
gathered together in a little group.  The storm as yet showed no
signs of abatement.

"Has anything been heard of Ben Oates' boat?" she enquired.

An old fisherman pointed seawards.

"There she comes, ma'am, up on the crest of that wave; look!"

"Will she get in?" Philippa asked eagerly.

There were varied opinions, expressed in indistinct mutterings.

"She's weathering it grand," the fisherman to whom she had first
spoken, declared.  "We've a line ready yonder, and we're reckoning
on getting 'em ashore all right.  Lucky for Ben that the gentleman
along with him is a fine sailor.  Look at that, mum!" he added in
excitement.  "See the way he brought her head round to it, just in
time.  Boys, they'll come in on the next one!"

One by one the sailors made their way to the very edge of the
wave-splashed beach.  There were a few more minutes of breathless
anxiety.  Then, after the boat had disappeared completely from sight,
hidden by a huge grey wall of sea, she seemed suddenly to climb to
the top of it, to hover there, to become mixed up with the spray and
the surf and a great green mass of waters, and then finally, with a
harsh crash of timbers and a shout from the fishermen, to be flung
high and dry upon the stones.  Philippa, clutching the iron railing,
saw for a moment nothing but chaos.  Her knees became weak.  She was
unable to move.  There was a queer dizziness in her ears.  The sound
of voices sounded like part of an unreal nightmare.  Then she was
aware of a single figure climbing the steps towards her.  There was
blood trickling down his face from the wound in the forehead, and he
was limping slightly.

"Mr. Lessingham!" she called out, as he reached the topmost step.

He took an eager step towards her.

"Philippa!" he exclaimed.  "Why, what are you doing here?"

"I was frightened," she faltered.  "Are you hurt?"

"Not in the least," he assured her.  "We had a rough sail home,
that's all, and that fellow Oates drank himself half unconscious.
Come along, let me help you up the steps and out of this."

She clung to his arm, and they struggled up the private path to the
house.  Mills let them in with many expressions of concern, and
Helen came hurrying to them from the background.

"I went out to see the storm," Philippa explained weakly, "and I
saw Mr. Lessingham's boat brought in."

"And Mr. Lessingham will come this way at once," Helen insisted.
"I haven't had a real case since I got my certificate, and I'm going
to bind his head up."

Philippa began to feel her strength returning.  The horror which lay
behind those few minutes of nightmare rose up again in her mind.
Mills had hurried on into the bathroom, and the other two were
preparing to follow.  She stopped them.

"Mr. Lessingham," she said, "listen.  Captain Griffiths has been
here.  He knows or guesses everything."

"Everything?"

Philippa nodded.

"Helen must bind your head up, of course," she continued.  "After
that, think!  What can we do?  Captain Griffiths knows that there
was no Hamar Lessingham at college with Dick, that he never visited
Wood Norton, that there is some mystery about your arrival here,
and he told me to my face that he believes you to be Bertram
Maderstrom."

"What a meddlesome fellow!" Lessingham grumbled, holding his
handkerchief to his forehead.

"Oh, please be serious!" Helen begged, looking up from the bandage
which she was preparing.  "This is horrible!"

"Don't I know it!" Philippa groaned.  "Mr. Lessingham, you must
please try and escape from here.  You can have the car, if you like.
There must be some place where you can go and hide until you can
get away from the country."

"But I'm dining here to-night," Lessingham protested.  "I'm not
going to hide anywhere."

The two women exchanged glances of despair.

"Can't I make you understand!" Philippa exclaimed pathetically.
"You're in danger here--really in danger!"

Lessingham's demeanour showed no appreciation of the situation.

"Of course, I can quite understand," he said, "that Griffiths is
suspicious about me, but, after all, no one can prove that I have
broken the law here, and I shall not make things any better by
attempting an opera bouffe flight.  Can I have my head tied up and
come and talk to you about it later on?"

"Oh, if you like," Philippa assented weakly.  "I can't argue."

She made her way up to her room and changed her wet clothes.  When
she came down, Lessingham was standing on the hearth rug in the
library, with a piece of buttered toast in one hand and a cup of tea
in the other.  His head was very neatly bound up, and he seemed
quite at his ease.

"You know," he began, as he wheeled a chair up to the fire for her,
"that man Griffiths doesn't like me.  He never took to me from the
first, I could see that.  If it comes to that, I don't like Griffiths.
He is one of those mean, suspicious sort of characters we could very
well do without."

Philippa, who had rehearsed a little speech several times in her
bedroom, tried to be firm.

"Mr. Lessingham," she said, "you know that we are both your friends.
Do listen, please.  Captain Griffiths is Commandant here and in a
position of authority.  He has a very large power.  I honestly
believe that it is his intention to have you arrested--if not
to-night, within a very few days."

"I do not see how he can," Lessingham objected, helping himself to
another piece of toast.  "I have committed no crime here.  I have
played golf with all the respectable old gentlemen in the place, and
I have given the committee some excellent advice as to the two new
holes.  I have played bridge down at the club--we will call it
bridge!--and I have kept my temper like an angel.  I have dined at
Mess and told them at least a dozen new stories.  I have kept my
blinds drawn at night, and I have not a wireless secreted up the
chimney.  I really cannot see what they could do to me."

Philippa tried bluntness.

"You have served in the German army, and you are living in a
protected area under a false name," she declared.

"Well, of course, there is some truth in what you say," he admitted,
"but even if they have tumbled to that and can prove it, I should
do no good by running away.  To be perfectly serious," he added,
setting his cup down, "there is only one thing at the present
moment which would take me out of Dreymarsh, and that is if you
believe that my presence here would further compromise you and Miss
Fairclough."

Philippa was beginning to find her courage.  "We're in it already,
up to the neck," she observed.  "I really don't see that anything
matters so far as we are concerned."

"In that case," he decided, "I shall have the honour of presenting
myself at the usual time."



CHAPTER XXIII


Philippa and Helen met in the drawing-room, a few minutes before
eight that evening.  Philippa was wearing a new black dress, a
model of simplicity to the untutored eye, but full of that
undefinable appeal to the mysterious which even the greatest
artist frequently fails to create out of any form of colour.  Some
fancy had induced her to strip off her jewels at the last moment,
and she wore no ornaments save a band of black velvet around her
neck.  Helen looked at her curiously.

"Is this a fresh scheme for conquest, Philippa?" she asked, as they
stood together by the log fire.

Philippa unexpectedly flushed.

"I don't know what I was thinking about, really," she confessed.
"Is that the exact time, I wonder?"

"Two minutes to eight," Helen replied.

"Mr. Lessingham is always so punctual," Philippa murmured.  "I wonder
if Captain Griffiths would dare!"

"We've done our best to warn him," Helen reminded her friend.  "The
man is simply pig-headed."

"I can't help feeling that he's right," Philippa declared, "when he
argues that they couldn't really prove anything against him."

"Does that matter," Helen asked anxiously, "so long as he is an
enemy, living under a false name here?"

"You don't think they'd--they'd--"

"Shoot him?" Helen whispered, lowering her voice.  "They couldn't
do that!  They couldn't do that!"

The clock began to chime.  Suddenly Philippa, who had been listening,
gave a little exclamation of relief.

"I hear his voice!" she exclaimed.  "Thank goodness!"

Helen's relief was almost as great as her companion's.  A moment
later Mills ushered in their guest.  He was still wearing his
bandage, but his colour had returned.  He seemed, in fact, almost
gay.

"Nothing has happened, then?" Philippa demanded anxiously, as soon
as the door was closed.

"Nothing at all," he assured them.  "Our friend Griffiths is terribly
afraid of making a mistake."

"So afraid that he wouldn't come and dine.  Never mind, you'll have
to take care of us both," she added, as Mills announced dinner.

"I'll do my best," he promised, offering his arm.

If the sword of Damocles were indeed suspended over their heads, it
seemed only to heighten the merriment of their little repast.
Philippa had ordered champagne, and the warmth of the pleasant dining
room, the many appurtenances of luxury by which they were surrounded,
the glow of the wine, and the perfume of the hothouse flowers upon
the table, seemed in delicious contrast to the fury of the storm
outside.  They all three appeared completely successful in a strenuous
effort to dismiss all disconcerting subjects from their minds.
Lessingham talked chiefly of the East.  He had travelled in Russia,
Persia, Afghanistan, and India, and he had the unusual but striking
gift of painting little word pictures of some of the scenes of his
wanderings.  It was half-past nine before they rose from the table,
and Lessingham accompanied them into the library.  With the advent
of coffee, they were for the first time really alone.  Lessingham
sat by Philippa's side, and Helen reclined in a low chair close at
hand.

"I think," he said, "that I can venture now to tell you some news."

Helen put down her work.  Philippa looked at him in silence, and her
eyes seemed to dilate.

"I have hesitated to say anything about it," Lessingham went on,
"because there is so much uncertainty about these things, but I
believe that it is now finally arranged.  I think that within the
next week or ten days--perhaps a little before, perhaps a little
later--your brother Richard will be set at liberty."

"Dick?  Dick coming home?" Philippa cried, springing up from her
reclining position.

"Dick?" Helen faltered, her work lying unheeded in her lap.  "Mr.
Lessingham, do you mean it?  Is it possible?"

"It is not only possible," Lessingham assured them, "but I believe
that it will come to pass.  I have had to exercise a little
duplicity, but I fancy that it has been successful.  I have insisted
that without help from an influential person in Dreymarsh, I cannot
bring my labours here to a satisfactory conclusion, and I have named
as the price of that help, Richard's absolute and immediate freedom.
I heard only this morning that there would be no difficulty."

Helen snatched up her work and groped her way towards the door.

"I will come back in a few minutes," she promised, her voice a
little broken.

Lessingham, who had opened the door for her, returned to his place.
There were no tears in Philippa's brilliant eyes, but there was a
faint patch of colour in her cheeks, and her lips were not quite
steady.  She caught at his hands.

"Oh, my dear, dear friend!" she said.  "If only that little nightmare
part of you did not exist.  If only you could be just what you seem,
and one could feel that you were there in our lives for always!  I
feel that I want to talk to you so much, to you and not the sham you.
What shall I call you?"

"Bertram, please," he whispered.

"Then Bertram, dear," she went on, "for my sake, because you have
really become dear to me, because my heart aches at the thought of
your danger, and because--see how honest I am--I am a little
afraid of myself--will you go away?  The thought of your danger is
like a nightmare to me.  It all seems so absurd and unreasonable
--I mean that the danger which I fear should be hanging over you.
But I think that there is just a little something back of your brain
of which you have never spoken, which it was your duty to keep to
yourself, and it is just that something which brings the danger."

"I am not afraid for myself, Philippa," he told her.  "I took a
false step in life when I came here.  What it was that attracted me
I do not know.  I think it was the thought of that wild ride amongst
the clouds, and the starlight.  It seemed such a wonderful beginning
to any enterprise.  And, Philippa, for one part of my adventure, the
part which concerns you, it was a gorgeous prelude, and for the
other--well, it just does not count because I have no fear.  I have
faith in my fortune, do you know that?  I believe that I shall leave
this place unharmed, but I believe that if I leave it without you, I
shall go back to the worst hell in which a man could ever . . ."

"Bertram," she pleaded, "think of it all.  Even if I cared enough--
and I don't--there is something unnatural about it.  Doesn't it
strike you as horrible?  My brother, my cousins, my father, are all
fighting the men of the nation whose cause you have espoused!  There
is a horrible, eternal cloud of hatred which it will take generations
to get rid of, if ever it disappears.  How can we two speak of love!
What part of the world could we creep into where people would not
shrink away from us?  I may have lost a little of my heart to you,
Bertram, I may miss you when you go away, I may waste weary hours
thinking, but that is all.  Oh, you know that it must be all!"

"I do not," he answered stubbornly.

"Oh, you must be reasonable," she begged, with a little break in her
voice.  "You know very well that I ought not to listen to you.  I
ought not to welcome you here.  I ought to be strong and close my
ears."

"But you will not do that!"

"No!" she faltered.  "Please don't come any nearer.  I--"

She broke off suddenly.  The struggle in her face was ended, her
expression transformed.  Her finger was held up as though to bid
him listen.  With her other hand she clutched the back of the couch.
Her eyes were fixed upon the door.  The little patch of wonderful
colour faded from her cheeks.

"Listen!" she cried, with a note of terror in her voice.  "That was
the front door!  Some one has come!  Can't you hear them?"

Lessingham's hand stole suddenly to his pocket.  She caught the
glitter of something half withdrawn, and shrank back with a
half-stifled moan.

"Not before you, dear," he promised.  "Please do not be afraid.  If
this is the end, leave me alone with Griffiths.  I shall not hurt
him.  I shall not forget.  And if by any chance," he added, "this
is to be our farewell, Philippa, you will remember that I love you
as the flowers of the world love their sun.  Courage!"

The door facing them was opened.

"Captain Griffiths," Mills announced.

Through the open door they caught a vision of two other soldiers
and Inspector Fisher.  Griffiths came into the room alone, however,
and waited until the door was closed before he spoke.  He carried
himself as awkwardly as ever, but his long, lean face seemed to
have taken to itself a new expression.  He had the air of a man
indulging in some strange pleasure.

"Lady Cranston," he said, "I am very sorry to intrude, but my visit
here is official."

"What is it?" she asked hoarsely.

"I have received confirmatory evidence in the matter of which I
spoke to you this afternoon," he went on.  "I am sorry to disturb
you at such an hour, but it is my duty to arrest this man on a
charge of espionage."

Lessingham to all appearance remained unmoved.

"A most objectionable word," he remarked.

"A most villainous profession," Captain Griffiths retorted.  "Thank
heaven that in this country we are learning the art of dealing with
its disciples."

"This is all a hideous mistake," Philippa declared feverishly.  "I
assure you that Mr. Lessingham has visited my father's house, that
he was well-known to me years ago."

"As the Baron Maderstrom!  What arguments he has used, Lady Cranston,
to induce you to accept him here under his new identity, I do not
know, but the facts are very clear."

"He seems quite convinced, doesn't he?" Lessingham remarked, turning
to Philippa.  "And as I gather that a portion of the British Army,
assisted by the local constabulary, is waiting for me outside,
perhaps I had better humour him."

"It would be as well, sir," Captain Griffiths assented grimly.  "I
am glad to find you in the humour for jesting."

Lessingham turned once more to Philippa.  This time his tone was
more serious.

"Lady Cranston," he begged, "won't you please leave us?"

"No!" she answered hysterically.  "I know why you want me to, and
I won't go!  You have done no harm, and nothing shall happen to you.
I will not leave the room, and you shall not--"

His gesture of appeal coincided with the sob in her throat.  She
broke down in her speech, and Captain Griffiths moved a step nearer.

"If you have any weapon in your possession, sir," he said, "you had
better hand it over to me."

"Well, do you know," Lessingham replied, "I scarcely see the
necessity.  One thing I will promise you," he added, with a sudden
flash in his eyes, "a single step nearer--a single step, mind--and
you shall have as much of my weapon as will keep you quiet for the
rest of your life.  Remember that so long as you are reasonable I
do not threaten you.  Help me to persuade Lady Cranston to leave us."

Captain Griffiths was out of his depths.  He was not a coward, but
he had no hankering after death, and there was death in Lessingham's
threat and in the flash of his eyes.  While he hesitated, there was a
knock upon the door.  Mills came silently in.  He carried a telegram
upon a salver.

"For you, sir," he announced, addressing Captain Griffiths.  "An
orderly has just brought it down."

Griffiths looked at the pink envelope and frowned.  He tore it open,
however, without a word.  As he read, his long, upper teeth closed
in upon his lip.  So he stood there until two little drops of blood
appeared.

Then he turned to Mills.

"There is no answer," he said.

The man bowed and left the room.  He walked slowly and he looked
back from the doorway.  It was scarcely possible for even so
perfectly trained a servant to escape from the atmosphere of tragedy.

"Something tells me," Lessingham remarked coolly, as soon as the
door was closed, "that that message concerns me."

The Commandant made no immediate reply.  He straightened out the
telegram and read it once more under the lamplight, as though to
be sure there was no possible mistake.  Then he folded it up and
placed it in his waistcoat pocket.

"The notion of your arrest, sir," he said to Lessingham harshly,
"is apparently distasteful to some one at headquarters who has not
digested my information.  I am withdrawing my men for the present."

"You're not going to arrest him?" Philippa cried.

"I am not," Captain Griffiths answered.  "But," he added, turning
to Lessingham, "this is only a respite.  I have more evidence
behind all that I have offered.  You are Baron Bertram Maderstrom,
a German spy, living here in a prohibited area under a false name.
That I know, and that I shall prove to those who have interfered
with me in the execution of my duty.  This is not the end."

He left the room without even a word or a salute to Philippa.
Lessingham looked after him for a moment, thoughtfully.  Then he
shrugged his shoulders.

"I am quite sure that I do not like Captain Griffiths," he declared.
"There is no breeding about the fellow."



CHAPTER XXIV


Philippa, even for some moments after the departure of Captain
Griffiths and his myrmidons, remained in a sort of nerveless trance.
The crisis, with its bewildering denouement, had affected her
curiously.  Lessingham rose presently to his feet.

"I wonder," he asked, "if I could have a whisky and soda?"

She stamped her foot at him in a little fit of hysterical passion.

"You're not natural!" she cried.  "Whisky and soda!"

 "Well, I don't know," he protested mildly, helping himself from
the table in the background.  "I rather thought I was being
particularly British.  When in doubt, take a drink.  That is
Richard all the world over, you know."

She broke into a little mirthless laugh.

"I shall begin to think that you are a poseur!" she exclaimed.

He crossed the room towards her.

"Perhaps I am, dear," he confessed.  "I want you just to sit up and
lose that unnatural look.  I am not really full of cheap bravado, but
I am a philosopher.  Something has happened to postpone--the end.
Good luck to it, I say!"

He raised his tumbler to his lips and set it down empty.  Philippa
rose to her feet and walked restlessly to the window and back.

"I'll try and be reasonable too," she promised, resuming her seat.
"I was right, you see.  Captain Griffiths has discovered everything.
Can you tell me what possible reason any one in London could have
had for interference?"

"I seem to have got a friend up there without knowing it, don't I?"
he observed.

"This is aging me terribly," Philippa declared, throwing herself
back into her seat.  "All my life I have hated mysteries.  Here I
am face to face with two absolutely insoluble ones.  Captain
Griffiths has assured me that there is here in Dreymarsh something
of sufficient importance to account for the presence of a foreign
spy.  You have confirmed it.  I have been torturing my brain about
that for the last twenty-four hours.  Now there happens something
more inexplicable still.  You are arrested, and you are not
arrested.  Your identity is known, and Captain Griffiths is forbidden
to do his duty."

"It seems puzzling, does it not?" Lessingham agreed.  "I shouldn't
worry about the first, but this last little episode takes some
explaining."

"If anything further happens this evening, I think I shall go mad,"
Philippa sighed.

"And something is going to happen," Lessingham declared, rising to
his feet.  "Did you hear that?"

Above even the roar of the wind they heard the brazen report of a
gun from almost underneath the window.  The room was suddenly
lightened by a single vivid flash.

"A mortar!" Lessingham exclaimed.  "And that was a rocket, unless
I'm mistaken."

"The signal for the lifeboat!" Philippa announced.  "I wonder if we
can see anything."

She hastened towards the window, but paused at the abrupt opening
of the door.  Nora burst in, followed more sedately by Helen.

"Mummy, there's a wreck!" the former cried in excitement.  "I heard
something an hour ago, and I got up, and I've been sitting by the
window, watching.  I saw the lifeboat go out, and they're signalling
now for the other one."

"It's quite true, Philippa," Helen declared.  "We're going to try
and fight our way down to the beach."

"I'll go, too," Lessingham decided.  "Perhaps I may be of use."

"We'll all go," Philippa agreed.  "Wait while I get my things on.
What is it, Mills?" she added, as the door opened and the latter
presented himself.

"There is a trawler on the rocks just off the breakwater, your
ladyship," he announced.  "They have just sent up from the beach
to know if we can take some of the crew in.  They are landing them
as well as they can on the line."

"Of course we can," was the prompt reply.  "Tell them to send as
many as they want to.  We will find room for them, somehow.  I'll go
upstairs and see about the fires.  You'll all come back?" she
added, turning around.

"We will all come back," Lessingham promised.

They fought their way down to the beach.  At first the storm
completely deafened all sound.  The lanterns, waved here and there
by unseen hands, seemed part of some ghostly tableau, of which the
only background was the raging of the storm.  Then suddenly, with
a startling hiss, another rocket clove its way through the darkness.
They had an instantaneous but brilliant view of all that was
happening,--saw the trawler lying on its side, apparently only a
few yards from the shore, saw the line stretched to the beach, on
which, even at that moment, a man was being drawn ashore, licked by
the spray, his strained face and wind-tossed hair clearly visible.
Then all was darkness again more complete than ever.  They struggled
down on to the shingle, where the little cluster of fishermen were
hard at work with the line.  Almost the first person they ran across
was Jimmy Dumble.  He was standing on the edge of the breakwater
with a great lantern in his hand, superintending the line, and, as
they drew near, Lessingham, who was a little in advance, could hear
his voice above the storm.  He was shouting towards the wreck, his
hand to his mouth.

"Send the master over next, you lubbers, or we'll cut the line.  Do
you hear?"

There was no reply or, if there was, it was drowned in the wind.
Lessingham gripped the fisherman by the arm.

"Whom do you mean by 'master'?" he demanded.  Dumble scarcely
glanced at his interlocutor.

"Why, Sir Henry Cranston, to be sure," was the agitated answer.
"These lubbers of sea hands are all coming off first, and the line
won't stand for more than another one or two," he added, dropping
his voice.

Then the thrill of those few minutes' excitement unrolled itself
into a great drama before Lessingham's eyes.  Sir Henry was on that
ship as near as any man might wish to be to death.

"'Ere's the next," Jimmy muttered, as they turned the windlass
vigorously.  "Gosh, 'e's a heavy one, too!"

Then came a cry which sounded like a moan and above it the shrill
fearful yell of a man who feels himself dropping out of the world's
hearing.  Lessingham raised the lantern which stood on the beach
by Jimmy's side.  The line had broken.  The body of its suspended
traveller had disappeared!  And just then, strangely enough, for
the first time for over an hour, the heavens opened in one great
sheet of lightning, and they could see the figure of one man left
on the ship, clinging desperately to the rigging.

"Tie the line around me," Jimmy shouted.  "Let her go.  Get the
other end on the windlass."

They paid out the rope through their hands.  Jimmy kicked off his
boots and plunged into the cauldron.  He swam barely a dozen strokes
before he was caught on the top of an incoming wave, tossed about
like a cork and flung back upon the beach, where he lay groaning.
There was a little murmur amongst the fisherman, who rushed to lean
over him.

"Swimming ain't no more use than trying to walk on the water," one
of them declared.

Lessingham raised the lantern which he was carrying, and flashed
it around.

"Where are the young ladies?" he asked.

"Gone up to the house with two as we've just taken off the wreck,"
some one informed him.

Lessingham stooped down.  Willing hands helped him unfasten the cord
from Jimmy's waist.  He tore off his own coat and waistcoat and boots.
Some helped, other sought to dissuade him, as he secured the line
around his own waist.

"We've sent for more rockets," one man shouted in his ear.  "The man
will be back in half an hour."

Lessingham pushed them on one side.  He stood on the edge of the
beach and, borrowing a lantern, watched for his opportunity.  Then
suddenly he vanished.  They looked after him.  They could see
nothing but the rope slipping past their feet, inch by inch.
Sometimes it was stationary, sometimes it was drawn taut.  The
first great wave that came flung a yard or so of slack amongst
them.  Then, after the roar of its breaking had died away, they
saw the rope suddenly tighten, and pass rapidly out, and the
excitement began to thicken.

"That 'un didn't get him, anyway," one of them muttered.

"He'll go through the next, with luck," another declared hopefully.

Lessingham, fighting for his consciousness, deafened and half
stunned by the roar of the waters about him, still felt the
exhilaration of that great struggle.  He looked once into seas
which seemed to touch the clouds, drew himself stiff, and plunged
into the depths of a mountain of foaming waters, whose summit
seemed to him like one of those grotesque and nightmare-distorted
efforts of the opium-eating brain.  Then the roar sounded all
behind him, and he knew that he was through the breakers.  He swam
to the side of the ship and clutched hold of a chain.  It was Sir
Henry's out-stretched hand which pulled him on to the deck.

"My God, that was a swim!" the latter declared, as he pulled his
rescuer up, not in the least recognising him.  "Let's have the end
of that cord, quick!  So!" he went on, paying it out through his
fingers until the end of the rope appeared.  "You'd better get your
breath, young man, and then over you go.  I'll follow."

"I'm damned if I do!" was the vigorous reply.  "You start off while
I get my breath."

They were suddenly half drowned with a shower of spray.  Sir Henry
held Lessingham in a grip of iron, or he would have been swept
overboard.

"Get one arm through the chains, man," he shouted.  "My God!" he
added, peering through the gloom.  "Lessingham!"

"Well, don't stop to worry about that," was the fierce reply.  "Let's
get on with our job."

Sir Henry threw off his oilskins and his underneath coat.

"Follow me when they wave the lantern twice," he directed.  "If we
either of us get the knock--well, thanks!"

Lessingham felt the grip of Sir Henry's hand as he passed him and
went overboard into the darkness.  Then, with one arm through the
chains, he drew towards him by means of his heel the coat which
Sir Henry had thrown upon the deck.  Gradually it came within reach
of his disengaged hand.  He seized it, shook it out, and dived
eagerly into the breast pocket.  There were several small articles
which he threw ruthlessly away, and then a square packet, wrapped
in oilcloth, which bent to his fingers.  Another breaking wave
threw him on his back.  One arm was still through the chain, the
other gripped what some illuminating instinct had already convinced
him was the chart!  As soon as he had recovered his breath, a grim
effort of humour parted his lips.  He lay there for a moment and
laughed till the spray, this time with a rush of green water
underneath, very nearly swept him from his place.

They were waving a lantern on the beach when he struggled again to
his feet.

He slipped the little packet down his clothes next to his skin, and
groped about to find the end of the line which Sir Henry and he had
fastened to a staple below the chains.  Then he drew a long breath,
gripped the rope and shouted.  A second or two later he was back in
the cauldron.

As they pulled him on to the beach, he had but one idea.  Whatever
happened, he must not lose consciousness.  The packet was still
there against the calf of his leg.  It must be his own hands which
removed his clothes.  It seemed to him that those few bronzed faces,
those half a dozen rude lanterns, had become magnified and multiplied
a hundredfold.  It was an army of blue-jerseyed fishermen which
patted him on the back and welcomed him, lanterns like the stars
flashing everywhere around.  He set his teeth and fought against the
buzzing in his ears.  He tried to speak, and his voice sounded like
a weak, far away whisper.

"I am all right," he kept on saying.

Then he felt himself leaning on two brawny arms.  His feet followed
the mesmeric influence of their movement.  Was he going into the
clouds, he wondered?  They stopped to open a gate, the gate leading
to the gardens of Mainsail Haul.  How did he get there?  He had no
idea.  More movements of his feet, and then unexpected warmth.  He
looked around him.  There were voices.  He listened.  The one voice?
The one face bending over his, her eyes wet with tears, her whispers
an incoherent stream of broken words.  Then the warmth seemed to
come back to his veins.  He sat up and found himself on the couch
in the library, the rain dripping from him in little pools, and he
knew that he had succeeded.  He had not fainted.

"I am all right," he repeated.  "What a mess I am making!"

The voices around him were still a little tangled, but the hand
which held a steaming tumbler to his lips was Philippa's.

"Drink it all," she begged.

He felt the tears come into his eyes, felt the warm blood streaming
through his body, felt a little wet patch at the back of the calf
of his leg, and the hand which set down the empty tumbler was almost
steady.

"There's a hot bath ready," Philippa told him; "some dry clothes,
and a bedroom with a fire in.  Do let Mills show you the way."

He rose at once, prepared to follow her.  His feet were not quite
so steady as he would have wished, but he made a very presentable
show.  Mills, with a little apology, held out his arm.  Philippa
walked by his other side.

"As soon as you have finished your bath and got into some dry
clothes," Philippa whispered, "please ring, or send Mills to let us
know."

He was even able to smile at her.

"I am quite all right," he assured her once more.



CHAPTER XXV


Philippa, unusually early on the following morning, glanced at the
empty breakfast table with a little air of disappointment, and rang
the bell.

"Mills," she enquired, "is no one down?"

"Sir Henry is, I believe, on the beach, your ladyship," the man
answered, "and Miss Helen and Miss Nora are with him."

"And Mr. Lessingham?"

"Mr. Lessingham, your ladyship," Mills continued, looking carefully
behind him as though to be sure that the door was closed, "has
disappeared."

"Disappeared?" Philippa repeated.  "What do you mean, Mills?"

"I left Mr. Lessingham last night, your ladyship," Mills explained,
"in a suit of the master's clothes and apparently preparing for bed
--I should say this morning, as it was probably about two o'clock.
I called him at half past eight, as desired, and found the room empty.
The bed had not been slept in."

"Was there no note or message?" Philippa asked incredulously.

"Nothing, your ladyship.  One of the maid servants believes that she
heard the front door open at five o'clock this morning."

"Ring up the hotel," Philippa instructed, "and see if he is there."

Mills departed to execute his commission.  Philippa stood looking
out of the window, across the lawn and shrubbery and down on to the
beach.  There was still a heavy sea, but it was merely the swell
from the day before.  The wind had dropped, and the sun was shining
brilliantly.  Sir Henry, Helen, and Nora were strolling about the
beach as though searching for something.  About fifty yards out, the
wrecked trawler was lying completely on its side, with the end of
one funnel visible.  Scattered groups of the villagers were examining
it from the sands.  In due course Mills returned.

"The hotel people know nothing of Mr. Lessingham, your ladyship,
beyond the fact that he did not return last night.  They received a
message from Hill's Garage, however, about half an hour ago, to
say that their mechanic had driven Mr. Lessingham early this morning
to Norwich, where he had caught the mail train to London, The boy
was to say that Mr. Lessingham would be back in a day or so."

Philippa pushed open the windows and made her way down towards the
beach.  She leaned over the rail of the promenade and waved her hand
to the others, who clambered up the shingle to meet her.

"Scarcely seen you yet, my dear, have I?" Sir Henry observed.

He stooped and kissed her forehead, a salute which she suffered without
response.  Helen pointed to the wreck.

"It doesn't seem possible, does it," she said, "that men's lives
should have been lost in that little space.  Two men were drowned,
they say, through the breaking of the rope.  They recovered the
bodies this morning."

"Everything else seems to have been washed on shore except my coat,"
Sir Henry grumbled.  "I was down here at daylight, looking for it."

"Your coat!" Philippa repeated scornfully.  "Fancy thinking of that,
when you only just escaped with your life!"

"But to tell you the truth, my dear," Sir Henry explained, "my
pocketbook and papers of some value were in the pocket of that coat.
I can't think how I came to forget them.  I think it was the surprise
of seeing that fellow Lessingham crawl on to the wreck looking like
a drowned rat.  Jove, what a pluck he must have!"


"The fishermen can talk of nothing else," Nora put in excitedly.
"Mummy, it was simply splendid!  Helen and I had gone up with two of
the rescued men, but I got back just in time to see them fasten the
rope round his waist and watch him plunge in."

"How is he this morning?" Helen asked.

"Gone," Philippa replied.

They all looked at her in surprise.

"Gone?" Sir Henry repeated.  "What, back to the hotel, do you mean?"

"His bed has not been slept in," Philippa told them.  "He must have
slipped away early this morning, gone to Hill's Garage, hired a car,
and motored to Norwich.  From there he went on to London.  He has
sent word that he will be back in a few days."

"I hope to God he won't!" Sir Henry muttered.

Philippa swung round upon him.

"What do you mean by that?" she demanded.  "Don't you want to thank
him for saving your life?"

"My dear, I certainly do," Sir Henry replied, "but just now--well,
I am a little taken aback.  Gone to London, eh?  Tore away without
warning in the middle of the night to London!  And coming back, too
--that's the strange part of it!"

One would think, from Sir Henry's expression, that he was finding
food for much satisfaction in this recital of Lessingham's sudden
disappearance.

"He is a wonderful fellow, this Lessingham," he added thoughtfully.
"He must have--yes, by God, he must have--In that storm, too!"

"If you could speak coherently, Henry," Philippa observed, "I should
like to say that I am exceedingly anxious to know why Mr. Lessingham
has deserted us so precipitately."

Sir Henry would have taken his wife's arm, but she avoided him.  He
shrugged his shoulders and plodded up the steep path by her side.

"The whole question of Lessingham is rather a problem," he said.
"Of course, you and Helen have seen very much more of him than I
have.  Isn't it true that people have begun to make curious remarks
about him?"

"How did you know that, Henry?" Philippa demanded.

"Well, one hears things," he replied.  "I should gather, from what
I heard, that his position here had become a little precarious.
Hence his sudden disappearance."

"But he is coming back again," Philippa reminded her husband.

"Perhaps!"

Philippa signified her desire that her husband should remain a little
behind with her.  They walked side by side up the gravel path.
Philippa kept her hands clasped behind her.

"To leave the subject of Mr. Lessingham for a time," she began, "I
feel very reluctant to ask for explanations of anything you do, but
I must confess to a certain curiosity as to why I should find you
lunching at the Canton with two very beautiful ladies, a few days
ago, when you left here with Jimmy Dumble to fish for whiting; and
also why you return here on a trawler which belongs to another part
of the coast?"

Sir Henry made a grimace.

"I was beginning to wonder whether curiosity was dead," he observed
good-humouredly.  "If you wouldn't mind giving me another--well,
to be on the safe side let us say eight days--I think I shall be
able to offer you an explanation which you will consider satisfactory."

"Thank you," Philippa rejoined, with cold surprise; "I see no reason
why you should not answer such simple questions at once."

Sir Henry sighed deprecatingly, and made another vain attempt to take
his wife's arm.

"Philippa, be a little brick," he begged.  "I know I seem to have
been playing the part of a fool just lately, but there has been a
sort of reason for it."

"What reason could there possibly be," she demanded, "which you
could not confide in me?"

He was silent for a moment.  When he spoke again there was a new
earnestness in his tone.

"Philippa," he said, "I have been working for some time at a little
scheme which isn't ripe to talk about yet, not even to you, but
which may lead to something which I hope will alter your opinion.
You couldn't see your way clear to trust me a little longer, could
you?" he begged, with rather a plaintive gleam in his blue eyes.
"It would make it so much easier for me to say no more but just
have you sit tight."

"I wonder," she answered coldly, "if you realise how much I have
suffered, sitting tight, as you call it, and waiting for you to
do something!"

"My fishing excursions," he went on desperately, "have not been
altogether a matter of sport."

"I know that quite well," she replied.  "You have been making that
chart you promised your miserable fishermen.  None of those things
interest me, Henry.  I fear--I am very much inclined to say that
none of your doings interest me.  Least of all," she went on, her
voice quivering with passion, "do I appreciate in the least these
mysterious appeals for my patience.  I have some common sense,
Henry."

"You're a suspicious little beast," he told her.

"Suspicious!" she scoffed.  "What a word to use from a man who goes
off fishing for whiting, and is lunching at the Carlton, some days
afterwards, with two ladies of extraordinary attractions!"

"That was a trifle awkward," Sir Henry admitted, with a little burst
of candour, "but it goes in with the rest, Philippa."

"Then it can stay with the rest," she retorted, "exactly where I
have placed it in my mind.  Please understand me.  Your conduct for
the last twelve months absolves me from any tie there may be between
us.  If this explanation that you promise comes--in time, and I
feel like it, very well.  Until it does, I am perfectly free, and
you, as my husband, are non-existent.  That is my reply, Henry, to
your request for further indulgence."

"Rather a foolish one, my dear," he answered, patting her shoulder,
"but then you are rather a child, aren't you?"

She swung away from him angrily.

"Don't touch me!" she exclaimed.  "I mean every word of what I have
said.  As for my being a child--well, you may be sorry some day
that you have persisted in treating me like one."

Sir Henry paused for a moment, watching her disappearing figure.
There was an unusual shade of trouble in his face.  His love for
and confidence in his wife had been so absolute that even her threats
had seemed to him like little morsels of wounded vanity thrown to
him out of the froth of her temper.  Yet at that moment a darker
thought crossed his mind.  Lessingham, he realised, was not a rival,
after all, to be despised.  He was a man of courage and tact, even
though Sir Henry, in his own mind, had labelled him as a fool.  If
indeed he were coming back to Dreymarsh, what could it be for?  How
much had Philippa known about him?  He stood there for a few moments
in indecision.  A great impulse had come to him to break his pledge,
to tell her the truth.  Then he made his disturbed way into the
breakfast room.

"Where's your mother, Nora?" he asked, as Helen took Philippa's
place at the head of the table.

"She wants some coffee and toast sent up to her room." Nora
explained.  "The wind made her giddy."

Sir Henry breakfasted in silence, rang the bell, and ordered his car.

"You going away again, Daddy?" Nora asked.

"I am going to London this morning," he replied, a little absently.

"To London?" Helen repeated.  "Does Philippa know?"

"I haven't told her yet."

Helen turned towards Nora.

"I wish you'd run up and see if your mother wants any more coffee,
there's a dear," she suggested.

Nora acquiesced at once.  As soon as she had left the room, Helen
leaned over and laid her hand upon Sir Henry's arm.

"Don't go to London, Henry," she begged.

"But my dear Helen, I must," he replied, a little curtly.

"I wouldn't if I were you," she persisted.  "You know, you've tried
Philippa very high lately, and she is in an extremely emotional
state.  She is all worked up about last night, and I wouldn't leave
her alone if I were you."

Sir Henry's blue eyes seemed suddenly like points of steel as he
leaned towards her.

"You think that she is in love with that fellow Lessingham?" he asked
bluntly.

"No, I don't," Helen replied, "but I think she is more furious with
you than you believe.  For months you have acted--well, how shall
I say?"

"Oh, like a coward, if you like, or a fool.  Go on."

"She has asked for explanations to which she is perfectly entitled,"
Helen continued, "and you have given her none.  You have treated her
like something between a doll and a child.  Philippa is as good and
sweet as any woman who ever lived, but hasn't it ever occurred to
you that women are rather mysterious beings?  They may sometimes do,
out of a furious sense of being wrongly treated, out of a sort of
aggravated pique, what they would never do for any other reason.  If
you must go, come back to-night, Henry.  Come back, and if you are
obstinate, and won't tell Philippa all that she has a right to know,
tell her about that luncheon in town."

Sir Henry frowned.

"It's all very well, you know, Helen," he said, "but a woman ought
to trust her husband."

"I am your friend, remember," Helen replied, "and upon my word, I
couldn't trust and believe even in Dick, if he behaved as you have
done for the last twelve months."

Sir Henry made a grimace.

"Well, that settles it, I suppose, then," he observed.  "I'll have
one more try and see what I can do with Philippa.  Perhaps a hint
of what's going on may satisfy her."

He climbed the stairs, meeting Nora on her way down, and knocked at
his wife's door.  There was no reply.  He tried the handle and found
the door locked.

"Are you there, Philippa?" he asked.

"Yes!" she replied coldly.

"I am going to London this morning.  Can I have a few words with you
first?"

"No!"

Sir Henry was a little taken aback.

"Don't be silly, Philippa," he persisted.  "I may be away for four
or five days."

There was no answer.  Sir Henry suddenly remembered another entrance
from a newly added bathroom.  He availed himself of it and found
Philippa seated in an easy-chair, calmly progressing with her
breakfast.  She raised her eyebrows at his entrance.

"These are my apartments," she reminded him.

"Don't be a little fool," he exclaimed impatiently.

Philippa deliberately buttered herself a piece of toast, picked up
her book, and became at once immersed in it.

"You don't wish to talk to me, then?" he demanded.

"I do not," she agreed.  "You have had all the opportunities which
any man should need, of explaining certain matters to me.  My
curiosity in them has ended; also my interest--in you.  You say
you are going to London.  Very well.   Pray do not hurry home on
my account."

Sir Henry, as he turned to leave the room, made the common mistake
of a man arguing with a woman--he attempted to have the last word.

"Perhaps I am better out of the way, eh?"

"Perhaps so," Philippa assented sweetly.



CHAPTER XXVI


Philippa, late that afternoon, found what she sought--solitude.
She had walked along the sands until Dreymarsh lay out of sight on
the other side of a spur of the cliffs.  Before her stretched a
long and level plain, a fringe of sand, and a belt of shingly
beach.  There was not a sign of any human being in sight, and of
buildings only a quaint tower on the far horizon.

She found a dry place on the pebbles, removed her hat and sat down,
her hands clasped around her knees, her eyes turned seaward.  She
had come out here to think, but it was odd how fugitive and
transient her thoughts became.  Her husband was always there in the
background, but in those moments it was Lessingham who was the
predominant figure.  She remembered his earnestness, his tender
solicitude for her, the courage which, when necessity demanded,
had flamed up in him, a born and natural quality.  She remembered
the agony of those few minutes on the preceding day, when nothing
but what still seemed a miracle had saved him.  At one moment she
felt herself inclined to pray that he might never come back.  At
another, her heart ached to see him once more.  She knew so well
that if he came it would be for her sake, that he would come to ask
her finally the question with which she had fenced.  She knew, too,
that his coming would be the moment of her life.  She was so much
of a woman, and the passionate craving of her sex to give love for
love was there in her heart, almost omnipotent.  And in the
background there was that bitter desire to bring suffering upon
the man who had treated her like a child, who had placed her in a
false position with all other women, who had dawdled and idled
away his days, heedless of his duty, heedless of every serious
obligation.  When she tried to reason, her way seemed so clear,
and yet, behind it all, there was that cold impulse of almost
Victorian prudishness, the inheritance of a long line of virtuous
women, a prudishness which she had once, when she had believed
that it was part of her second nature, scoffed at as being the
outcome of one of the finer forms of selfishness.

She told herself that she had come there to decide, and decision
came no nearer to her.  A late afternoon star shone weakly in the
sky.  A faint, vaporous mist obscured the horizon and floated in
tangled wreaths upon the face of the sea.  Only that line of
sand seemed still clear-cut and distinct, and as she glanced along
it her eyes were held by something approaching, something which
seemed at first nothing but a black, moving speck, then gradually
resolved itself into the semblance of a man on horseback, galloping
furiously.  She watched him as he drew nearer and nearer, the sand
flying from his horse's hoofs, his figure motionless, his eyes
apparently fixed upon some distant spot.  It was not until he had
come within fifty yards of her that she recognised him.  His horse
shied at the sight of her and was suddenly swung round with a
powerful wrist.  Little specks of sand, churned up in the momentary
stampede of hoofs, fell upon her skirt.  For the rest, she watched
the struggle composedly, a struggle which was over almost as soon
as it was begun.  Captain Griffiths leaned down from his trembling
but subdued horse.

"Lady Cranston!" he exclaimed in astonishment.

"That's me," she replied, smiling up at him.  "Have you been riding
off your bad temper?"

He glanced down at his horse's quivering sides.  Back as far as one
could see there was that regular line of hoof marks.

"Am I bad-tempered?" he asked.

"Well," she observed, "I don't know you well enough to answer that
question.  I was simply thinking of yesterday evening."

He slipped from his horse and stood before her.  His long, severe
face had seldom seemed more malevolent.

"I had enough to make me bad-tempered," he declared.  "I had tracked
down a German spy, step by step, until I had him there, waiting for
arrest--expecting it, even--and then I got that wicked message."

"What was that wicked message after all?" she enquired.

"That doesn't matter," he answered.  "It was from a quarter where
they ought to know better, and it ordered me to make no arrest.  I
have sent to the War Office to-day a full report, and I am praying
that they may change their minds."

Philippa sighed.

"If you hadn't received that telegram last night," she observed,
"it seems to me that I should have been a widow to-day."

He frowned, and struck his boot heavily with his riding whip.

"Yes, I heard of that," he admitted.  "I dare say if he hadn't
gone, though, some one else would."

"Would you have gone if you had been there?" she asked.

"If you had told me to," he replied, looking at her steadfastly.

Philippa felt a little shiver.  There was something ominous in the
intensity of his gaze and the meaning which he had contrived to
impart to his tone.  She rose to her feet.

"Well," she said, "don't let me keep you here.  I am getting cold."

He passed his arm through the bridle of his horse.  "I will walk
with you, if I may," he proposed.  She made no reply, and they set
their faces homewards.

"I hear Lessingham has left the place," he remarked, a little
abruptly.

"Oh, I expect he'll come back," Philippa replied.

"How long is it, Lady Cranston, since you took to consorting with
German spies?" he asked.

"Don't be foolish--or impertinent," she enjoined.  "You are making
a ridiculous mistake about Mr. Lessingham."

He laughed unpleasantly.

"No need for us to fence," he said.  "You and I know who he is.
What I do want to know, what I have been wondering all the way from
the point there--four miles of hard galloping and one question--
why are you his friend?  What is he to you?"

"Really, Captain Griffiths," she protested, looking up at him, "of
what possible interest can that be to you?"

"Well, it is, anyhow," he answered gruffly.  "Anything that concerns
you is of interest to me."

Philippa realised at that moment, perhaps for the first time, what
it all meant.  She realised the significance of those apparently
purposeless afternoon calls, when through sheer boredom she had had
to send for Helen to help her out; the significance of those long
silences, the melancholy eyes which seemed to follow her movements.
She felt an unaccountable desire to laugh, and then, at the first
twitchings of her lips, she restrained herself.  She knew that
tragedy was stalking by her side.

"I think, Captain Griffiths," she said gravely, "that you are talking
nonsense, and you are not a very good hand at it.  Won't you please
ride on?"

He made no movement to mount his horse.  He plodded along the soft
sand by her side--a queer, elongated figure, his gloomy eyes fixed
upon the ground.

"Until this fellow Lessingham came you were never so hard," he
persisted.

She looked at him with genuine curiosity.

"I was never so hard?" she repeated.  "Do you imagine that I have
ever for a single moment considered my demeanour towards you--you
of all persons in the world?  I simply don't remember when you have
been there and when you haven't.  I don't remember the humours in
which I have been when we have conversed.  All that you have said
seems to me to be the most arrant nonsense."

He swung himself into the saddle and gathered up the reins.

"Thank you," he said bitterly, "I understand.  Only let me tell you
this," he went on, his whip poised in his hand.  "You may have
powerful friends who saved your--"

He hesitated so long that she glanced up at him and read all that
he had wished to say in his face.

"My what?" she asked.

His courage failed him.

"Mr. Lessingham," he proceeded, "from arrest.  But if he shows his
face here again in Dreymarsh, I sha'n't stop to arrest him.  I shall
shoot him on sight and chance the consequences."

"They'll hang you!" she declared savagely.

He laughed at her.

"Hang me for shooting a man whom I can prove to be a German spy?
They won't dare!  They won't even dare to place me under arrest for
an hour.  Why, when the truth becomes known," he went on, his
voice gaining courage as the justice of his case impressed itself
upon him, "what do you suppose is going to happen to two women who
took this fellow in and befriended him, introduced him under a
false name to their friends, gave him the run of their house--this
man whom they knew all the time was a German?  You, Lady Cranston,
chafing and scolding your husband by night and by day because he
isn't where you think he ought to be; you, so patriotic that you
cannot bear the sight of him out of uniform; you--the hostess,
the befriender, the God knows what of Bertram Maderstrom!  It will
be a pretty tale when it's all told!"

"I really think," Philippa asserted calmly, "that you are the most
utterly impossible and obnoxious creature I have ever met."

His face was dangerous for a moment.  They had not yet reached the
promontory which sheltered them from Dreymarsh.

"Perhaps," he muttered, leaning malignly towards her, "I could make
myself even more obnoxious."

"Quite possibly," she replied, "only I want to tell you this.  If
you come a single inch nearer to me, one of them shall shoot you."

"Your friend or your husband, eh?" he scoffed.

She waved him on.

"I think," she told him, "that either of them would be quite
capable of ridding the world of a coward like you."

"A coward?" he repeated.

"Precisely!  Isn't it a coward's part to terrorise a woman?"

"I don't want to terrorise you," he said sulkily.

"Well, you must admit that you haven't shown any particular desire
to make yourself agreeable," she pointed out.

He turned suddenly upon her.

"I am a fool, I know," he declared bitterly.  "I'm an awkward,
nervous, miserable fool, my own worst enemy as they say of me in
the Mess, turning the people against me I want to have like me,
stumbling into every blunder a fool can.  I'm the sort of man
women make sport of, and you've done it for them cruelly,
perfectly."

"Captain Griffiths!" she protested.  "When have I ever been
anything but kind and courteous to you?"

"It isn't your kindness I want, nor your courtesy!  There's a curse
upon my tongue," he went on desperately.  "I'm not like other men.
I don't know how to say what I feel.  I can't put it into words.
Every one misunderstands me.  You, too!  Here I rode up to you this
afternoon and my heart was beating for joy, and in five minutes I
had made an enemy of you.  Damn that fellow Lessingham!  It is all
his fault!"

Without the slightest warning he brought down his hunting crop upon
his horse's flanks.  The mare gave one great plunge, and he was off,
riding at a furious gallop.  Philippa watched him with immense
relief, In the far distance she could see two little specks growing
larger and larger.  She hurried on towards them.

"Whatever did you do to Captain Griffiths, Mummy?"  Nora demanded.
"Why he passed us without looking down, galloping like a madman,
and his face looked--well, what did it look like, Helen?"

Helen was gazing uneasily along the sands.

"Like a man riding for his enemy," she declared.



CHAPTER XXVII


Philippa and Helen looked at one another a little dolefully across
the luncheon table.

"I supposes one misses the child," Helen said.

"I feel too depressed for words," Philippa admitted.

"A few days ago," Helen reminded her companion, "we were getting
all the excitement that was good for any one."

"And a little more," Philippa agreed.  "I don't know why things seem
so flat now.  We really ought to be glad that nothing terrible has
happened."

"What with Henry and Mr. Lessingham both away," Helen continued,
"and Captain Griffiths not coming near the place, we really have
reverted to the normal, haven't we?  I wonder--if Mr. Lessingham
has gone back."

"I do not think so," Philippa murmured.

Helen frowned slightly.

"Personally," she said, with some emphasis, "I hope that he has."

"If we are considering the personal point of view only," Philippa
retorted, "I hope that he has not."

Helen looked her disapproval.

"I should have thought that you had had enough playing with fire,"
she observed.

"One never has until one has burned one's fingers," Philippa sighed.
"I know perfectly well what is the matter with you," she continued
severely.  "You are fretting because curried chicken is Dick's
favourite dish."

"I am not such a baby," Helen protested.  "All the same, it does
make one think.  I wonder--"

"I know exactly what you were going to say," Philippa interrupted.
"You were going to say that you wondered whether Mr. Lessingham
would keep his promise."

"Whether he would be able to," Helen corrected.  "It does seem so
impossible, doesn't it?"

"So does Mr. Lessingham himself," Philippa reminded her.  "It isn't
exactly a usual thing, is it, to have a perfectly charming and
well-bred young man step out of a Zeppelin into your drawing-room."

"You really believe, then," Helen asked eagerly, "that he will be
able to keep his promise?"

Philippa nodded confidently.

"Do you know," she said, "I believe that Mr. Lessingham, by some
means or another, would keep any promise he ever made.  I am
expecting to see Dick at any moment now, so you can get on with
your lunch, dear, and not sit looking at the curry with tears in
your eyes."

"It isn't the curry so much as the chutney," Helen protested faintly.
"He never would touch any other sort."

"Well, I shouldn't be surprised if he were here to finish the
bottle," Philippa declared.  "I have a feeling this morning that
something is going to happen."

"How long has Nora gone away for?" Helen enquired, after a moment's
pause.

"A fortnight or three weeks," Philippa answered.  "Her grandmother
wired that she would be glad to have her until Christmas."

"Just why," Helen asked seriously, "have you sent her away?"

Philippa toyed with her curry, and glanced around as though she
regretted Mills' absence from the room.

"I thought it best," she said quietly.  "You see, I am not quite
sure what the immediate future of this menage is going to be."

Helen leaned across the table and laid her hand upon her friend's.

"Dear," she sighed, "it worries me so to hear you talk like that."

"Why?"

"Because you know perfectly well, although you profess to ignore it,
that at the bottom of your heart there is no one else but Henry.
It isn't fair, you know."

"To whom isn't it fair?" Philippa demanded.

"To Mr. Lessingham."

Philippa was thoughtful for a few moments.

"Perhaps," she admitted, "that is a point of view which I have not
sufficiently considered."

Helen pressed home her advantage.

"I don't think you realise, Philippa," she said, "how madly in love
with you the man is.  In a perfectly ingenuous way, too.  No one
could help seeing it."

"Then where does the unfairness come in?" Philippa asked.  "It is
within my power to give him all that he wants."

"But you wouldn't do it, Philippa.  You know that you wouldn't!"
Helen objected.  "You may play with the idea in your mind, but
that's just as far as you'd ever get."


Philippa looked her friend steadily in the face.  "I disagree with
you, Helen," she said.  Helen set down the glass which she had
been in the act of raising to her lips.  It was her first really
serious intimation of the tragedy which hovered over her future
sister-in-law's life.  Somehow or other, Philippa had seemed, even
to her, so far removed from that strenuous world of over-drugged,
over-excited feminine decadence, to whom the changing of a husband
or a lover is merely an incident in the day's excitements.
Philippa, with her frail and almost flowerlike beauty, her love of
the wholesome ways of life, and her strong affections, represented
other things.  Now, for the first time, Helen was really afraid,
afraid for her friend.

"But you couldn't ever--you wouldn't leave Henry!"

Philippa seemed to find nothing monstrous in the idea.

"That is just what I am seriously thinking of doing," she confided.

Helen affected to laugh, but her mirth was obviously forced.  Their
conversation ceased perforce with the return of Mills into the room.

Then the wonderful thing happened.  The windows of the dining room
faced the drive to the house and both women could clearly see a
motor car turn in at the gate and stop at the front door.  It was
obviously a hired car, as the driver was not in livery, but the
tall, mulled-up figure in unfamiliar clothes who occupied the front
seat was for the moment a mystery to them.  Only Helen seemed to
have some wonderful premonition of the truth, a premonition which
she was afraid to admit even to herself.  Her hand began to shake.
Philippa looked at her in amazement.

"You look as though you had seen a ghost, Helen!" she exclaimed.
"Who on earth can it be, coming at this time of the day?"

Helen was speechless, and Philippa divined at once the cause of her
agitation.  She sprang to her feet.

"Helen, you don't imagine--" she gasped.  "Listen!"

There was a voice in the hail--a familiar voice, though strained
a little and hoarse; Mills' decorous greetings, agitated but fervent.
And then--Major Richard Felstead!

"Dick!" Helen screamed, as she threw herself into his arms.  "Oh,
Dick!  Dick!"

It was an incoherent, breathless moment.  Somehow or other, Philippa
found herself sharing her brother's embrace.  Then the fire of
questions and answers was presently interrupted by Mills,
triumphantly bearing in a fresh dish of curry.

"What will the Major take to drink, your ladyship?" he asked.

Felstead laughed a little chokingly.

"Upon my word, there's something wonderfully sound about Mills!"
he said.  "It's a ghoulish thing to ask for in the middle of the
day, isn't it, Philippa, but can I have some champagne?"

"You can have the whole cellarful," Philippa assured him joyously.
"Be sure you bring the best, Mills."

"The Perrier Jonet 1904, your ladyship," was the murmured reply.

Mills' disappearance was very brief, and in a very few moments they
found themselves seated once more at the table.  They sat one on
either side of him, watching his glass and his plate.  By degrees
their questions and his answers became more intelligible.

"When did you get here?" they wanted to know.

"I arrived in Harwich about daylight this morning," he told them;
"came across from Holland.  I hired a car and drove straight here."

"When did you know you were coming home?" Helen asked.

"Only two days ago," he replied.  "I never was so surprised in my
life.  Even now I can't realise my good luck.  I can't see what I've
done.  The last two months, in fact, seem to me to have been a dream.
Jove!" he went on, as he drank his wine, "I never thought I should
be such a pig as to care so much for eating and drinking!"

"And think what weeks of it you have before you?" Helen explained,
clapping her hands.  "Philippa and I will have a new interest in
life--to make you fat."

He laughed.

"It won't be very difficult," he promised them.  "I had several
months of semi-starvation before the miracle happened.  It was all
just the chance of having had a pal up at Magdalen who's been
serving in the German Army--Bertram Maderstrom was his name.  You
remember him, Philippa?  He was a Swede in those days."

"What a dear he must have been to have remembered and to have been
so faithful!" Philippa observed, looking away for a moment.

"He's a real good sort," Felstead declared enthusiastically,
"although Heaven knows why he's turned German!  He worked like a
slave for me.  I dare say he didn't find it so difficult to get
me better quarters and a servant, and decent food, but when they
told me that I was free--well, it nearly knocked me silly."

"The dear fellow!" Philippa murmured pensively.

"Do you remember him, either of you?" Felstead continued.  "Rather
good-looking he was, and a little shy, but quite a sportsman."

"I--seem to remember," Philippa admitted.

"The name sounds familiar," Helen echoed.  "Do have some more
chutney, Dick."

"Thanks!  What a pig I am making of myself!" he observed cheerfully.
"You girls will think I can't talk about any one but Maderstrom,
but the whole business beats me so completely.  Of course, we were
great pals, in a way, but I never thought that I was the apple of
his eye, or anything of that sort.  How he got the influence, too,
I can't imagine.  And oh!  I knew there was something else I was
going to ask you girls," Felstead went on.  "Have you ever had
a letter, or rather a letter each, uncensored?  Just a line or two?
I think I mentioned Maderstrom which I should not have been allowed
to do in the ordinary prison letters."

Felstead was helping himself to cheese, and he saw nothing of the
quick glance which passed between the two women.

"Yes, we had them, Dick," Philippa told him.  "It was one afternoon
--it doesn't seem so very long ago.  And oh, how thankful we were!"

Felstead nodded.

"He got them across all right, then.  Tell me, did they come through
Holland?  What was the postmark?"

"The postmark," Philippa repeated, a little doubtfully.  "You heard
what Dick asked, Helen?  The postmark?"

"I don't think there was one," Helen replied, glancing anxiously at
Philippa.

Felstead set down his glass.

"No postmark?  You mean no foreign postmark, I suppose?  They were
posted in England, eh?"

Philippa shook her head.

"They came to us, Dick," she said, "by hand."

Felstead was, without a doubt, astonished.  He turned round in his
chair towards Philippa.

"By hand?" he repeated.  "Do you mean to say that they were actually
brought here by hand?"

Perhaps something in his manner warned them.  Philippa laughed as
she bent over his chair.

"We will tell you how they came, presently," she declared, "but not
until you have finished your lunch, drunk the last drop of that
champagne, and had at least two glasses of the port that Mills has
been decanting so carefully.  After that we will see.  Just now I
have only one feeling, and I know that Helen has it, too.  Nothing
else matters except that we have you home again."

Felstead patted his sister on the cheek, drew her face down to his
and kissed her.

"It's so wonderful to be at home!" he exclaimed apologetically.
"But I must warn you that I am the rabidest person alive.  I went
out to the war with a certain amount of respect for the Germans.  I
have come back loathing them like vermin.  I spent--but I won't go
on."

Mills made his appearance with the decanter of port.

"I beg your ladyship's pardon," he said, as he filled Felstead's
glass, "but Mr. Lessingham has arrived and is in the library,
waiting to see you."



CHAPTER XXVIII


To Major Richard Felstead, Mills' announcement was without
significance.  For the first time he became conscious, however, of
something which seemed almost like a secret understanding between
his sister and his fiancée.

"Tell Mr. Lessingham I shall be with him in a minute or two, if he
will kindly wait," Philippa instructed.

"Who is Mr. Lessingham?" Richard enquired, as soon as the door had
closed behind Mills.  "Seems a queer time to call."

Helen glanced at Philippa, whose lips framed a decided negative.

"Mr. Lessingham is a gentleman staying in the neighbourhood," the
latter replied.  "You will probably make his acquaintance before
long.  Incidentally, he saved Henry's life the other night."

"Sounds exciting," Richard observed.  "What form of destruction
was Henry courting?"

"There was a trawler shipwrecked in the storm," Philippa explained.
"You can see it from all the front windows.  Henry was on board,
returning from one of his fishing excursions.  They were trying to
find Dumble's anchorage and were driven in on to that low ridge of
rock.  A rope broke, or something, they had no more rockets, and
Mr. Lessingham swam out with the line."

"Sounds like a plucky chap," Richard admitted.

Philippa rose to her feet regretfully.

"I expect he has come to wish us good-by," she said.  "I'll leave
you with Helen, Dick.  Don't let her overfeed you.  And you know
where the cigars are, Helen.  Take Dick into the gun room
afterwards.  You'll have it all to yourselves and there is a fire
there."

Philippa entered the library in a state of agitation for which she
was glad to have some reasonable excuse.  She held out both her
hands to Lessingham.

"Dick is back--just arrived!" she exclaimed.  "I can't tell you
how happy we are, and how grateful!"

Lessingham raised her fingers to his lips.

"I am glad," he said simply.  "Do you mean that he is in the house
here, now?"

"He is in the dining room with Helen."

Lessingham for a moment was thoughtful.

"Don't you think," he suggested, "that it would be better to keep
us apart?"

"I was wondering," she confessed.

"Have you told him about my bringing the letters?"

She shook her head.

"We nearly did.  Then I stopped--I wasn't sure."

"You were wise," he said.

"Are you wise?" she asked him quickly.

"In coming back here?"

She nodded.

"Captain Griffiths knows everything," she reminded him.  "He is
simply furious because your arrest was interfered with.  I really
believe that he is dangerous."

Lessingham was unmoved.

"I had to come back," he said simply.

"Why did you go away so suddenly?"

"Well, I had to do that, too," he replied, "only the governing
causes were very different.  We will speak, if you do not mind,
only of the cause which has brought me back.  That I believe you
know already."

Philippa was curiously afraid.  She looked towards the door as
though with some vague hope of escape.  She realised that the
necessity for decision had arrived.

"Philippa," he went on, "do you see what this is?"

He handed her two folded slips of paper.  She started.  At the top
of one she recognised a small photograph of herself.

"What are they?" she asked.  "What does it mean?"

"They are passports for America," he told her.

"For--for me?" she faltered.

"For you and me."

They slipped from her fingers.  He picked them up from the carpet.
Her face was hidden for a moment in her hands.

"I know so well how you are feeling," he said humbly.  "I know how
terrible a shock this must seem to you when it comes so near.  You
are so different from the other women who might do this thing.  It
is so much harder for you than for them."

She lifted her head.  There was still something of the look of a
scared child in her face.

"Don't imagine me better than I am," she begged.  "I am not really
different from any other woman, only it is the first time this sort
of thing has ever come into my life."

"I know.  You see," he went on, a little wistfully, "you have not
taken me, as yet, very far into your confidence, Philippa.  You
know that I love you as a man loves only once.  It sounds like an
empty phrase to say it, but if you will give me your life to take
care of, I shall only have one thought--to make you happy.  Could
I succeed?  That is what you have to ask yourself.  You are not
happy now.  Do you think that, if you stay on here, the future is
likely to be any better for you?"

She shook her head drearily.

"I believe," she confessed, "that I have reached the very limit
of my endurance."

He came a little nearer.  His hands rested upon her shoulders very
lightly, yet they seemed like some enveloping chain.  More than
ever in those few moments she realised the spiritual qualities of
his face.  His eyes were aglow.  His voice, a little broken with
emotion, was wonderfully tender.  He looked at her as though she
were some precious and sacred thing.

"I am rich," he said, "and there are few parts of the world where
we could not live.  We could find our way to the islands, like
your great writer Stevenson in whom you delight so much; islands
full of colour, and wonderful birds, and strange blue skies;
islands where the peace of the tropics dulls memory, and time
heats only in the heart.  The world is a great place, Philippa,
and there are corners where the sordid crime of this ghastly
butchery has scarcely been heard of, where the horror and the
taint of it are as though they never existed, where the sun and
moon are still unashamed, and the grey monsters ride nowhere upon
the sapphire seas."

"It sounds like a fairy tale," she murmured, with a half pathetic
smile.

"Love always fashions life like a fairy tale," he replied.

She stood perfectly still.

"You must have my answer now, at this moment?" she asked at last.

"There are yet some hours," he told her.  "I have a very powerful
automobile here, and to-night there is a full moon.  If we leave
here at ten o'clock, we can catch the steamer to-morrow afternoon.
Everything has been made very easy for me.  And fortune, too, is
with us--your vindictive commandant, Captain Griffiths, is in
London.  You see, you have the whole afternoon for thought.  I
want you only for your happiness.  At ten o'clock I shall come
here.  If you are coming with me, you must be ready then.  You
understand?"

"I understand," she assented, under her breath.  "And now," she
went on, raising her eyes, "somehow I think that you are right.
It would be better for you and Dick not to meet."

"I am sure of it," he agreed.  "I shall come for my answer at ten
o'clock.  I wonder--"

He stood looking at her, his eyes hungry to find some sign in her
face.  There was so much kindness there, so much that might pass,
even, for affection, and yet something which, behind it all,
chilled his confidence.  He left his sentence uncompleted and
turned towards the door.  Suddenly she called him back.  She held
up her finger.  Her whole expression had changed.  She was alarmed.

"Wait!" she begged.  "I can hear Dick's voice.  Wait till he has
crossed the hail."

They both stood, for a moment, quite silent.  Then they heard a
little protesting cry from Helen, and a good-humoured laugh from
Richard.  The door was thrown open.

"You don't mind our coming through to the gun room, Phil?" her
brother asked.  "We're not--My God!"

There was a queer silence, broken by Helen, who stood on the
threshold, the picture of distress.

"I tried to get him to go the other way, Philippa."

Richard took a quick step forward.  His hands were outstretched.

"Bertram!" he exclaimed.  "Is this a miracle?  You here with my
sister?"

Lessingham held out his hand.  Suddenly Richard dropped his.  His
expression had become sterner.

"I don't understand," he said simply.  "Somebody please explain."



CHAPTER XXIX


For a few brief seconds no one seemed inclined to take upon
themselves the onus of speech.  Richard's amazement seemed to
increase upon reflection.

"Maderstrom!" he exclaimed.  "Bertram!  What in the name of all
that's diabolical are you doing here?"

"I am just a derelict," Lessingham explained, with a faint smile.
"Glad to see you, Richard.  You are a day earlier than I expected."

"You knew that I was coming, then?" Richard demanded.

"Naturally," Lessingham replied.  "I had the great pleasure of
arranging for your release."

"Look here," Richard went on, "I'm groping about a bit.  I don't
understand.  Forgive me if I run off the track.  I'm not forgetting
our friendship, Maderstrom, or what I owe to you since you came
and found me at Wittenburg.  But for all that, you have served in
the German Army and are an enemy, and I want to know what you are
doing here, in England, in my brother-in-law's house."

"No particular harm, Richard, I promise you," Lessingham replied
mildly.

"You are here under a false name!"

"Hamar Lessingham, if you do not mind," the other assented.  "I
prefer my own name, but I do not fancy that the use of it would
ensure me a very warm welcome over here just now.  Besides," he
added, with a glance at Philippa, "I have to consider the friends
whose hospitality I have enjoyed."

In a shadowy sort of way the truth began to dawn upon Richard.  His
tone became grimmer and his manner more menacing.

"Maderstrom," he said, "we met last under different circumstances.
I will admit that I cut a poor figure, but mine was at least an
honourable imprisonment.  I am not so sure that yours is an
honourable freedom."

Philippa laid her hand upon her brother's arm.

"Dick, dear, do remember that they were starving you to death!"
she begged.

"You would never have lived through it," Helen echoed.

"You are talking to Mr. Lessingham," Philippa protested, "as though
he were an enemy, instead of the best friend you ever had in your
life."

Richard waved them away.

"You must leave this to us," he insisted.  "Maderstrom and I will
be able to understand one another, at any rate.  What are you doing
in this house--in England?  What is your mission here?"

"Whatever it may have been, it is accomplished," Lessingham said
gravely.  "At the present moment, my plans are to leave your country
to-night."

"Accomplished?" Richard repeated.  "What the devil do you mean?
Accomplished?  Are you playing the spy in this country?"

"You would probably consider my mission espionage," Lessingham
admitted.

"And you have brought it to a successful conclusion?"

"I have."

Philippa threw her arms around her brother's neck.  "Dick," she
pleaded, "please listen.  Mr. Lessingham has been here, in this
district, ever since he landed in England.  What possible harm
could he do?  We haven't a single secret to be learned.  Everybody
knows where our few guns are.  Everybody knows where our soldiers
are quartered.  We haven't a harbour or any secret fortifications.
We haven't any shipping information which it would be of the
least use signalling anywhere.  Mr. Lessingham has spent his time
amongst trifles here.  Take Helen away somewhere and forget that
you have seen him in the house.  Remember that he has saved
Henry's life as well as yours."

"I invite no consideration upon that account," Lessingham declared.
"All that I did for you in Germany, I did, or should have attempted
to do, for my old friend.  Your release was different.  I am forced
to admit that it was the price paid for my sojourn here.  I will
only ask you to remember that the bargain was made without your
knowledge, and that you are in no way responsible for it."

"A price," Richard pronounced fiercely, "which I refuse to pay!"

Lessingham shrugged his shoulders.

"The alternative," he confessed, "is in your hands."

Richard moved towards the telephone.

"I am sorry, Maderstrom," he said, "but my duty is clear.  Who is
Commandant here, Philippa?"

Philippa stood between her brother and the telephone.  There was a
queer, angry patch of colour in her cheeks.  Her eyes were on fire.

"Richard," she exclaimed, "you shall not do this from my house!
I forbid you!"

"Do what?"

"Give information.  Do you know what it would mean if they believed
you?"

"Death," he answered.  "Maderstrom knew the risk he ran when he
came to this country under a false name."

"Perfectly," Lessingham admitted.

"But I won't have it!" Philippa protested.  "He has become our
friend.  Day by day we have grown to like him better and better.
He has saved your life, Dick.  He has brought you back to us.
Think what it is that you purpose!"

"It is what every soldier has to face," Richard declared.

"You men drive me crazy with your foolish ideas!" Philippa cried
desperately.  "The war is in your brains, I think.  You would
carry it from the battlefields into your daily life.  Because two
great countries are at war, is everything to go by--chivalry?--all
the finer, sweeter feelings of life?  If you two met on the
battlefield, it would be different.  Here in my drawing-room, I
will not have this black demon of the war dragged in as an excuse
for murder!  Take Dick away, Helen!" she begged.  "Mr. Lessingham is
leaving to-night.  I will pledge my word that until then he remains
a harmless citizen."

"Women don't understand these things, Philippa--" Richard began.

"Thank heavens we understand them better than you men!" Philippa
interrupted fiercely.  "You have but one idea--to strike--the
narrow idea of men that breeds warfare.  I tell you that if ever
universal peace comes, if ever the nations are taught the horror
of this lust for blood, this criminal outrage against civilisation,
it is the women who will become the teachers, because amongst your
instincts the brutish ones of force are the first to leap to the
surface at the slightest provocation.  We women see further, we
know more.  I swear to you, Richard, that if you interfere I will
never forgive you as long as I live!"

Richard stared at his sister in amazement.  There seemed to be some
new spirit born within her.  Throughout all their days he had never
known her so much in earnest, so passionately insistent.  He
looked from her to the man whom she sought to protect, and who
answered, unasked, the thoughts that were in his mind.

"Whatever harm I may have been able to do," Lessingham announced,
"is finished.  I leave this place to-night, probably for ever.  As
for the Commandant," he went on with a faint smile, "he is already
upon my track.  There is nothing you can tell him about me which
he does not know.  It is just a matter of hours, the toss of a
coin, whether I get away or not."

"They've found you out, then?" Richard exclaimed.

"Only a miracle saved me from arrest a week ago," Lessingham
acknowledged.  "Your Commandant here is at the present moment in
London for the sole purpose of denouncing me."

"And yet you remain here, paying afternoon calls?" Richard observed
incredulously.  "I'm hanged if I can see through this!"

"You see," Lessingham explained gently.  "I am a fatalist!"

It was Helen who finally led her lover from the room.  He looked
back from the door.

"Maderstrom," he said, "you know quite well how personally I feel
towards you.  I am grateful for what you have done for me, even
though I am beginning to understand your motives.  But as regards
the other things we are both soldiers.  I am going to talk to
Helen for a time.  I want to understand a little more than I do
at present."

Lessingham nodded.

"Let me help you," he begged.  "Here is the issue in plain words.
All that I did for you at Wittenberg, I should have done in any
case for the sake of our friendship.  Your freedom would probably
never have been granted to me but for my mission, although even
that I might have tried to arrange.  I brought your letters here,
and I traded them with your sister and Miss Fairclough for the
shelter of their hospitality and their guarantees.  Now you know
just where friendship ended and the other things began.  Do what
you believe to be your duty."

Richard followed Helen out, closing the door after him.  Lessingham
looked down into Philippa's face.

"You are more wonderful even than I thought," he continued softly.
"You say so little and you live so near the truth.  It is those of
us who feel as you do--who understand--to whom this war is so
terrible."

"I want to ask you one question before I send you away," she told
him.  "This journey to America?"

"It is a mission on behalf of Germany," he explained, "but it is,
after all, an open one.  I have friends--highly placed friends
--in my own country, who in their hearts feel as I do about the
war.  It is through them that I am able to turn my back upon
Europe.  I have done my share of fighting," he went on sadly, "and
the horror of it will never quite leave me.  I think that no one
has ever charged me with shirking my duty, and yet the sheer, black
ugliness of this ghastly struggle, its criminal inutility, have got
into my blood so that I think I would rather pass out of the world
in some simple way than find myself back again in that debauch of
blood.  Is this cowardice, Philippa?"

She looked at him with shining eyes.

"There isn't any one in the world," she said, "who could call you
a coward.  Whatever I may decide, whatever I may feel towards you,
that at least I know."

He kissed her fingers.

"At ten o'clock," he began--

"But listen," she interrupted.  "Apart from anything which Dick
might do, you are in terrible danger here, all the more if you
really have accomplished something.  Why not go now, at this
moment?  Why wait?  These few hours may make all the difference."

He smiled.

"They may, indeed, make all the difference to my life," he answered.
"That is for you."

He followed Mills, who had obeyed her summons, out of the room.
Philippa moved to the window and watched him until he had
disappeared.  Then very slowly she left the room, walked up the
stairs, made her way to her own little suite of apartments, and
locked the door.



CHAPTER XXX


It was a happy, if a trifle hysterical little dinner party that
evening at Mainsail Haul.  Philippa was at times unusually silent,
but Helen had expanded in the joy of her great happiness.  Richard,
shaved and with his hair cut, attired once more in the garb of
civilisation, seemed a different person.  Even in these few hours
the lines about his mouth seemed less pronounced.  They talked
freely of Maderstrom.

"A regular 'Vanity Fair' problem," Richard declared, balancing his
wine glass between his fingers, "a problem, too, which I can't say
I have solved altogether yet.  The only thing is that if he is
really going to-night, I don't see why I shouldn't let the matter
drift out of my mind."

"It is so much better," Helen agreed.  "Try as hard as ever I can,
I cannot picture his doing any harm to anybody.  And as for any
information he may have gained here, well, I think that we can
safely let him take it back to Germany."

"He was always," Richard continued reminiscently, "a sort of cross
between a dreamer, an idealist, and a sportsman.  There was never
anything of the practical man of affairs about him.  He was
scrupulously honourable, and almost a purist in his outlook upon
life.  I have met a great many Germans," Richard went on, "and I've
killed a few, thank God!--but he is about as unlike the ordinary
type as any one I ever met.  The only pity is that he ever served
his time with them."

Philippa had been listening attentively.  She was more than ever
silent after her brother's little appreciation of his friend.
Richard glanced at her good-humouredly.

"You haven't killed the fatted calf for me in the shape of clothes,
Philippa," he observed.  "One would think that you were going on
a journey."

She glanced down at her high-necked gown and avoided Helen's anxious
eyes.

"I may go for a walk," she said, "and leave you two young people to
talk secrets.  I am rather fond of the garden these moonlight nights."

"When is Henry coming back?" her brother enquired.

Philippa's manner was quiet but ominous.

"I have no idea," she confessed.  "He comes and goes as the whim
seizes him, and I very seldom know where he is.  One week it is
whiting and another codling.  Lately he seems to have shown some
partiality for London life."

Richard's eyes were wide open now.

"You mean to say that he is still not doing anything?"

"Nothing whatever."

"But what excuse does he give--or rather I should say reason?"
Richard persisted.

"He says that he is too old for a ship, and he won't work in an
office," Philippa replied.  "That is what he says.  His point of
view is so impossible that I can not even discuss it with him."

"It's the rummest go I ever came across," Richard remarked
reminiscently.  "I should have said that old Henry would have been
up and at 'em at the Admiralty before the first gun was fired."

"On the contrary," Philippa rejoined, "he took advantage of the
war to hire a Scotch moor at half-price, about a week after
hostilities had commenced."

"It's a rum go," Richard repeated.  "I can't fancy Henry as a
skulker.  Forgive me, Philippa," he added.

"You are entirely forgiven," she assured him drily.

"He comes of such a fine fighting stock," Richard mused.  "I
suppose his health is all right?"

"His health," Philippa declared, "is marvellous.  I should think
he is one of the strongest men I know."

Her brother patted her hand.

"You've been making rather a trouble of it, old girl," he said
affectionately.  "It's no good doing that, you know.  You wait and
let me have a talk with Henry."

"I think," she replied, "that nearly everything possible has already
been said to him."

"Perhaps you've put his back up a bit," Richard suggested, "and he
may really be on the lookout for something all the time."

"It has been a long search!" Philippa retorted, with quiet sarcasm.
"Let us talk about something else."

They gossiped for a time over acquaintances and relations, made
their plans for the week--Richard must report at the War Office at
once.

Philippa grew more and more silent as the meal drew to a close.  It
was at Helen's initiative that they left Richard alone for a moment
over his port.  She kept her arm through her friend's as they
crossed the hall into the drawing-room, and closed the door behind
them.  Philippa stood upon the hearth rug.  Already her mouth had
come together in a straight line.  Her eyes met Helen's defiantly.

"I know exactly what you are going to say, Helen," she began, "and
I warn you that it will be of no use."

Helen drew up a small chair and seated herself before the fire.

"Are you going away with Mr. Lessingham, Philippa?" she asked.

"I am," was the calm response.  "I made up my mind this afternoon.
We are leaving to-night."

Helen stretched out one foot to the blaze.

"Motoring?" she enquired.

"Naturally," Philippa replied.  "You know there are no trains
leaving here to-night."

"You'll have a cold ride," Helen remarked.  "I should take your
heavy fur coat."

Philippa stared at her companion.

"You don't seem much upset, Helen!"

"I think," Helen declared, looking up, "that nothing that has
ever happened to me in my life has made me more unhappy, but I
can see that you have reasoned it all out, and there is not a
single argument I could use which you haven't already discounted.
It is your life, Philippa, not mine."

"Since you are so philosophical," Philippa observed, "let me ask
you--should you do what I am going to do, if you were in my place?"

"I should not," was the firm reply.

Philippa laughed heartily.

"Oh, I know what you are going to say!" Helen continued quickly.
"You'll tell me, won't you, that I am not temperamental.  I think
in your heart you rather despise my absolute fidelity to Richard.
You would call it cowlike, or something of that sort.  There is a
difference between us, Philippa, and that is why I am afraid to
argue with you."

"What should you do," Philippa demanded, "if Richard failed you in
some great thing?"

"I might suffer," Helen confessed, "but my love would be there all
the same.  Perhaps for that reason I should suffer the more, but I
should never be able to see with those who judged him hardly."

"You think, then," Philippa persisted, "that I ought still to remain
Henry's loving and affectionate wife, ready to take my place amongst
the pastimes of his life--when he feels inclined, for instance, to
wander from his dark lady-love to something petite and of my
complexion, or when he settles down at home for a few days after a
fortnight's sport on the sea and expects me to tell him the war news?"

"I don't think that I should do that," Helen admitted quietly, "but
I am quite certain that I shouldn't run away with another man."

"Why not?"

"Because I should be punishing myself too much."

Philippa's eyes suddenly flashed.

"Helen," she said, "you are not such a fool as you try to make me
think.  Can't you see what is really at the back of it all in my
mind?  Can't you realise that, whatever the punishment it may bring,
it will punish Henry more?"

"I see," Helen observed.  "You are running away with Mr. Lessingham
to annoy Henry?"

"Oh, he'll be more than annoyed!" Philippa laughed sardonically.
"He has terrible ideas about the sanctity of things that belong to
him.  He'll be remarkably sheepish for some time to come.  He may
even feel a few little stabs.  When I have time, I am going to
write him a letter which he can keep for the rest of his life.  It
won't please him!"

"Where are you--and Mr. Lessingham going to live?" Helen enquired.

"In America, to start with.  I've always longed to go to the States."

"What shall you do," Helen continued, "if you don't get out of the
country safely?"

"Mr. Lessingham seems quite sure that we shall," Philippa replied,
"and he seems a person of many expedients.  Of course, if we didn't,
I should go back to Cheshire.  I should have gone back there, anyway,
before now, if Mr. Lessingham hadn't come."

"Well, it all seems very simple," Helen admitted.  "I think Mr.
Lessingham is a perfectly delightful person, and I shouldn't wonder
if you didn't now and then almost imagine that you were happy."

"You seem to be taking my going very coolly," Philippa remarked.

"I told you how I felt about it just now," Helen reminded her.
"Your going is like a great black cloud that I have seen growing
larger and larger, day by day.  I think that, in his way, Dick
will suffer just as much as Henry.  We shall all be utterly
miserable."

"Why don't you try and persuade me not to go, then?" Philippa
demanded.  "You sit there talking about it as though I were going
on an ordinary country-house visit."

Helen raised her head, and Philippa saw that her eyes were filled
with tears.

"Philippa dear," she said, "if I thought that all the tears that
were ever shed, all the words that were ever dragged from one's
heart, could have any real effect, I'd go on my knees to you now
and implore you to give up this idea.  But I think--you won't be
angry with me, dear?--I think you would go just the same."

"You seem to think that I am obstinate," Philippa complained.

"You see, you are temperamental, dear," Helen reminded her.  "You
have a complex nature.  I know very well that you need the daily
love that Henry doesn't seem to have been willing to give you
lately, and I couldn't stop your turning towards the sun, you know.
Only--all the time there's that terrible anxiety--are you quite
sure it is the sun?"

"You believe in Mr. Lessingham, don't you?" Philippa asked.

"I do indeed," Helen replied.  "I am not quite sure, though, that
I believe in you."

Philippa was a little startled.

"Well, I never!" she exclaimed.  "Exactly what do you mean by that,
Helen?"

"I am not quite sure," Helen continued, "that when the moment has
really come, and your head is upturned and your arms outstretched,
and your feet have left this world in which you are now, I am not
quite sure that you will find all that you seek."

"You think he doesn't love me?"

"I am not convinced," Helen replied calmly, "that you love him."

"Why, you idiot," Philippa declared feverishly, "of course I love
him!  I think he is one of the sweetest, most lovable persons I
ever knew, and as to his being a Swede, I shouldn't care whether he
were a Fiji Islander or a Chinese."

Helen nodded sympathetically.

"I agree with you," she said, "but listen.  You know that I haven't
uttered a single word to dissuade you.  Well, then, grant me just
one thing.  Before you start off this evening, tell Mr. Lessingham
the truth, whatever it may be, the truth which you haven't told me.
It very likely won't make any difference.  Two people as nice as you
and he, who are going to join their lives, generally do, I believe,
find the things they seek.  Still, tell him."

Philippa made no reply.  Richard opened the door and lingered upon
the threshold.  Helen rose to her feet.

"I am coming, Dick," she called out cheerfully.  "There's a gorgeous
fire in the gun room, and two big easy-chairs, and we'll have just
the time I have been looking forward to all day.  You'll tell me
things, won't you?"

She looked very sweet as she came towards him, her eyes raised to
him, her face full of the one happiness.  He passed his arm around
her waist.

"I'll try, dear," he said.  "You won't be lonely, Philippa?"

"I'll come and disturb you when I am," she promised.

The door closed.  She stood gazing down into the fire, listening to
their footsteps as they crossed the hall.



CHAPTER XXXI


Lessingham stood for a moment by the side of the car from which he
had just descended, glanced at the huge tires and the tins of
petrol lashed on behind.

"Nothing more you want, chauffeur?" he asked.

"Nothing, sir," was the almost inaudible reply.

"You have the route map?"

"Yes, sir, and enough petrol for three hundred miles."

Lessingham turned away, pushed open the gate, and walked up the
drive of Mainsail Haul.  Decidedly it was the moment of his life.
He was hard-pressed, as he knew, by others besides Griffiths.  A
few hours now was all the start he could reasonably expect.  He
was face to face with a very real and serious danger, which he
could no longer ignore, and from which escape was all the time
becoming more difficult.  And yet all the emotionalism of this
climax was centered elsewhere.  It was from Philippa's lips that
he would hear his real sentence; it was her answer which would
fill him once more with the lust for life, or send him on in his
rush through the night for safety, callous, almost indifferent
as to its result.

He walked up the drive, curiously at his ease, in a state of
suspended animation, which knew no hope and feared no
disappointment.  Just before he reached the front door, the
postern gate in the wall on his left-hand side opened, and
Philippa stood there, muffled up in her fur coat, framed in the
faint and shadowy moonlight against the background of seabounded
space.  He moved eagerly towards her.

"I heard the car," she whispered.  "Come and sit down for a moment.
It isn't in the least cold, and the moon is just coming up over the
sea.  I came out," she went on, as he walked obediently by her
side, "because the house somehow stifled me."

She led him to a seat.  Below, the long waves were breaking through
upon the rocks, throwing little fountains of spray into the air.
The village which lay at their feet was silent and lifeless--there
was, indeed, a curious absence of sound, except when the incoming
waves broke upon the rocks and ground the pebbles together in their
long, backward swish.  Very soon the sleeping country, now wrapped
in shadows, would take form and outline in the light of the rising
moon; hedges would divide the square fields, the black woods would
take shape and the hills their mystic solemnity.  But those few
minutes were minutes of suspense.  Lessingham was to some extent
conscious of their queer, allegorical significance.

"I have come," he reminded her quite steadily, "for my answer."

She showed him the small bag by her side upon the seat, and touched
her cloak.  She was indeed prepared for a journey.

"You see," she told him, "here I am."

His face was suddenly transformed.  She was almost afraid of the
effect of her words.  She found herself struggling in his arms.

"Not yet," she begged.  "Please remember where we are."

He released her reluctantly.  A few yards away, they could hear the
soft purring of the six-cylinder engine, inexorable reminder of the
passing moments.  He caught her by the hand.

"Come," he whispered passionately.  "Every moment is precious."

She hesitated no longer.  The open postern gate seemed to him
suddenly to lead down the great thoroughfare of a new and splendid
life.  He was to be one of those favoured few to whom was given
the divine prize.  And then he stopped short, even while she walked
willingly by his side.  He knew so well the need for haste.  The
gentle murmur of that engine was inviting him all the while.  Yet
he knew there was one thing more which must be said.

"Philippa," he began, "you know what we are doing?  We can escape,
I believe.  My flight is all wonderfully arranged.  But there
will be no coming back.  It will be all over when our car passes
over the hills there.  You will not regret?  You care enough even
for this supreme sacrifice?"

"I shall never reproach you as long as I live," she promised.  "I
have made up my mind to come, and I am ready."

"But it is because you care?" he pleaded anxiously.

"It is because I care, for one reason."

"In the great way?" he persisted.  "In the only way?"

She hesitated.  He suddenly felt her hand grow colder in his.  He
saw her frame shiver beneath its weight of furs.

"Don't ask me quite that," she begged breathlessly.  "Be content
to know that I have counted the cost, and that I am willing to come."

He felt the chill of impending disaster.  He closed the little gate
through which they had been about to pass, and stood with his back
to it.  In that faint light which seemed to creep over the world
before the moon itself was revealed, she seemed to him at that
moment the fairest, the most desirable thing on earth.  Her face
was upturned towards his, half pathetic, half protesting against
the revelation which he was forcing from her.

"Listen, Philippa," he said, "Miss Fairclough warned me of one thing.
I put it on one side.  It did not seem to be possible.  Now I must
ask you a question.  You have some other motive, have you not, for
choosing to come away with me?  It is not only because you love me
better than any one else in the world, as I do you, and therefore
that we belong to one another and it is right and good that we
should spend our lives in one another's company?  There is something
else, is there not, at the root of your determination?  Some ally?"

It was a strange moment for Philippa.  Nothing had altered within
her, and yet a wonderful pity was glowing in her heart, tearing at
her emotions, bringing a sob into her throat.

"You mean--Henry?"  she faltered.

"I mean your husband," he assented.

She was suddenly passionately angry with herself.  It seemed to her
that the days of childishness were back.  She was behaving like an
imbecile whilst he played the great game.

"You see," he went on, his own voice a little unsteady, "this is
one of those moments in both our lives when anything except the
exact truth would mean shipwreck.  You still love your husband?"

"I am such a fool!" she sobbed, clutching at his arm.

"You were willing to go away with me," he continued mercilessly,
"partly because of the anger you felt towards him, and partly out
of revenge, and just a little because you liked me.  Is that not so?"

Her head pressed upon his arm.  She nodded.  It was just that
convulsive movement of her head, with its wealth of wonderful hair
and its plain black motoring hat, which dealt the death-blow to his
hopes.  She was just a child once more--and she trusted him.

"Very well, then," he said, "just let me think--for a moment."

She understood enough not to raise her head.  Lessingham was gazing
out through the chaotic shadows of the distant banks of clouds from
which the moon was rising.  Already the pain had begun, and yet
with it was that queer sense of exaltation which comes with
sacrifice.

"We have been very nearly foolish," he told her, with grave
kindliness.  "It is well, perhaps, that we were in time.  Those
windows which lead into your library,--through which I first came
to you, by-the-by,--" he added, with a strange, reminiscent little
sigh, "are they open?"

"Yes!" she whispered.

"Come, then," he invited.  "Before I leave there is something I want
to make clear to you."

They made their way rather like two conspirators along the little
terraced walk.  Philippa opened the window and closed it again
behind them.  The room was empty.  Lessingham, watching her closely,
almost groaned as he saw the wonderful relief in her face.  She
threw off the cloak, and he groaned again as he remembered how
nearly it had been his task to remove it.  In her plain travelling
dress, she turned and looked at him very pathetically.

"You have, perhaps, a morning paper here?" he enquired.

"A newspaper?  Why, yes, the Times," she answered, a little surprised.

He took it from the table towards which she pointed, and held it
under the lamplight.  Presently he called to her.  His forefinger
rested upon a certain column.

"Read this," he directed.

She read it out in a tone which passed from surprise to blank wonder:

Commander Sir Henry Cranston, Baronet, to receive the D.S.O. for
special services, and to be promoted to the rank of Acting
Rear-Admiral.

"What does it mean?" she asked feverishly.  "Henry?  A D.S.O. for
Henry for special services?"

"It means," he told her, with a forced smile, "that your husband is,
as you put it in your expressive language, a fraud."



CHAPTER XXXII


For a moment Philippa was unsteady upon her feet.  Lessingham led
her to a chair.  From outside came the low, cautious hooting of the
motor horn, calling to its dilatory passenger.

"I can not, of course, explain everything to you," he began, in a
tone of unusual restraint, "but I do know that for the last two
years your husband has been responsible to the Admiralty for most
of the mine fields around your east coast.  To begin with, his stay
in Scotland was a sham.  He was most of the time with the fleet and
round the coasts.  His fishing excursions from here have been of
the same order, only more so.  All the places of importance, from
here to the mouth of the Thames, have been mined, or rather the
approaches to them have been mined, under his instructions.  My
mission in this country, here at Dreymarsh--do not shrink from
me if you can help it--was to obtain a copy of his mine protection
scheme of a certain town on the east coast."

"Why should I shrink from you?" she murmured.  "This is all too
wonderful!  What a little beast Henry must think me!" she added,
with truly feminine and marvellously selfish irrelevance.

"You and Miss Fairclough," Lessingham went on, "have rather scoffed
at my presence here on behalf of our Secret Service.  It seemed to
you both very ridiculous.  Now you understand."

"It makes no difference," Philippa protested tearfully.  "You always
told us the truth."

"And I shall continue to do so," Lessingham assured her.  "I am not
a clever person at my work which is all new to me, but fortune
favoured me the night your husband was shipwrecked.  I succeeded
in stealing from him, on board that wrecked trawler, the plan of
the mine field which I was sent over to procure."

"Of course you had to do it if you could," Philippa sobbed.  "I
think it was very clever of you."

He smiled.

"There are others who might look at the matter differently," he said.
"I am going to ask you a question which I know is unnecessary, but
I must have your answer to take away with me.  If you had known all
the time that your husband, instead of being a skulker, as you
thought him, was really doing splendid work for his country, you
would not have listened to me for one moment, would you?  You
would not have let me grow to love you?"

She clutched his hands.

"You are the dearest man in the world," she exclaimed, her lips
still quivering, "but, as you say, you know the answer.  I was
always in love with Henry.  It was because I loved him that I was
so furious.  I liked you so much that it was mean of me ever to
think of--of what so nearly happened."

"So nearly happened!" he repeated, with a sudden access of the
bitterest self-pity.

Once more the low, warning hoot of the motor horn, this time a
little more impatient, broke the silence.  Philippa was filled
with an unreasoning terror.

"You must go!" she implored.  "You must go this minute!  If they
were to take you, I couldn't bear it.  And that man Griffiths--he
has sworn that if he can not get the Government authority, he
will shoot you!"

"Griffiths has gone to London," he reminded her.

"Yes, but he may be back by this train," she cried, glancing at the
clock, "and I have a strange sort of fancy--I have had it all day
--that Henry might come, too.  It is overdue now.  Any one might
arrive here.  Oh, please, for my sake, hurry away!" she begged, the
tears streaming from her eyes.  "If anything should happen, I could
never forgive myself.  It is because you have been so dear, so true
and honourable, that all this time has been wasted.  If it were to
cost you your life!"


She was seized by a fit of nervous anxiety which became almost a
paroxysm.  She buttoned his coat for him and almost dragged him to
the door.  And then she stopped for a moment to listen.  Her eyes
became distended.  Her lips were parted.  She shook as though with
an ague.

"It is too late!" she faltered hysterically.  "I can hear Henry's
voice!  Quick!  Come to the window.  You must get out that way and
through the postern gate."

"Your husband will have seen the car," he protested.  "And besides,
there is your dressing-bag and your travelling coat."

"I shall tell him everything," she declared wildly.  "Nothing
matters except that you escape.  Oh, hurry!  I can hear Henry
talking to Jimmy Dumble--for God's sake--"

The words died away upon her lips.  The door had been opened and
closed again immediately.  There was the quick turn of the lock,
sounding like the click of fate.  Sir Henry, well inside the room,
nodded to them both affably.

"Well, Philippa?  You weren't expecting me, eh?  Hullo, Lessingham!
Not gone yet?  Running it a trifle fine, aren't you?"

Lessingham glanced towards the fastened door.

"Perhaps," he admitted, "a trifle too fine."

Sir Henry was suddenly taken by storm.  Philippa had thrown herself
into his arms.  Her fingers were locked around his neck.  Her lips,
her eyes, were pleading with him.

"Henry!  Henry, you must forgive me!  I never knew--I never dreamed
what you were really doing.  I shall never forgive myself, but you
--you will be generous."

"That's all right, dear," he promised, stooping down to kiss her.
"Partly my fault, of course.  I had to humour those old ladies down
at Whitehall who wanted me to pose as a particularly harmless
idiot.  You see," he went on, glancing towards Lessingham, "they
were always afraid that my steps might be dogged by spies, if my
position were generally known."

Philippa did not relinquish her attitude.  She was still clinging
to her husband.  She refused to let him go.

"Henry," she begged, "oh, listen to me!  I have so much to confess,
so much of which I am ashamed!  And yet, with it all, I want to
entreat--to implore one great favour from you."

Sir Henry looked down into his wife's face.

"Is it one I can grant?" he asked gravely.

"If you want me ever to be happy again, you will," she sobbed.
"For Helen's sake as well as mine, help Mr. Lessingham to escape."

Lessingham took a quick step forward.  He had the air of one who
has reached the limits of his endurance.

"You mean this kindly, Lady Cranston, I know," he said, "but I
desire no intervention."

Sir Henry patted his wife's hand and held her a little away from
him.  There was a curious but unmistakable change in his deportment.
His mouth had not altogether lost its humorous twist, but his jaw
seemed more apparent, the light in his eyes was keener, and there
was a ring of authority in his tone.

"Come," he said, "let us understand one another, Philippa, and you
had better listen, too, Mr. Lessingham.  I can promise you that
your chances of escape will not be diminished by my taking up these
few minutes of your time.  Philippa," he went on, turning back to
her, "you have always posed as being an exceedingly patriotic
Englishwoman, yet it seems to me that you have made a bargain with
this man, knowing full well that he was in the service of Germany,
to give him shelter and hospitality here, access to my house and
protection amongst your friends, in return for certain favours
shown towards your brother."

Philippa was speechless.  It was a view of the matter which she and
Helen had striven so eagerly to avoid.

"But, Henry," she protested, "his stay here seemed so harmless.  You
yourself have laughed at the idea of espionage at Dreymarsh.  There
is nothing to discover.  There is nothing going on here which the
whole world might not know."

"That was never my plea," Lessingham intervened.

"Nor is it the truth," Sir Henry added sternly.

"The Baron Maderstrom was sent here, Philippa, to spy upon me, to
gain access by any means to this house, to steal, if he could,
certain plans and charts prepared by me."

Philippa began to tremble.  She seemed bereft of words.

"He told me this," she faltered.  "He told me not half an hour ago."

There was a tapping at the door.  Sir Henry moved towards it but
did not turn the key.

"Who is that?" he asked.

"Captain Griffiths is here with an escort, sir," Mills announced.
"He has seized the motor car outside, and he begs to be allowed
to come in."



CHAPTER XXXIII


Mills' words were plainly audible throughout the room.  Philippa
made eager signs to Lessingham, pointing to the French windows.
Lessingham, however, shook his head.

"I prefer," he said gently, "to finish my conversation with your
husband."'

There was another and more insistent summons from outside.  This
time it was Captain Griffiths' raucous voice.

"Sir Henry Cranston," he called out, "I am here with authority.  I
beg to be admitted."

"Where is your escort?"

"In the hall."

"If I let you come in," Sir Henry continued, "will you come alone?"

"I should prefer it," was the eager reply.  "I wish to make this
business as little unpleasant to--to everybody as possible."

Sir Henry softly turned the key, opened the door, and admitted
Griffiths.  The man seemed to see no one else but Lessingham.  He
would have hastened at once towards him, but Sir Henry laid his hand
upon his arm.

"You must kindly restrain your impatience for a few moments," he
insisted.  "This is a private conference.  Your business with the
Baron Maderstrom can be adjusted later."

"It is my duty," Griffiths proclaimed impatiently, "to arrest that
man as a spy.  I have authority, granted me this morning in London."

"Quite so," Sir Henry observed, "but we are in the midst of a very
interesting little discussion which I intend to conclude.  Your turn
will come later, Captain Griffiths."

"I can countenance no discussion with such men as that," Griffiths
declared scornfully.  "I am here in the execution of my duty, and
I resent any interference with it."

"No one wishes to interfere with you," Sir Henry assured him, "but
until I say the word you will obey my orders."

"So far as I am concerned," Lessingham intervened, "I wish it to be
understood that I offer no defence."

"You have no defence," Sir Henry reminded him suavely.  "I gather
that not only had you the effrontery to steal a chart from my pocket
in the midst of a life struggle upon the trawler, but you have
capped this exploit with a deliberate attempt to abduct my wife."


Griffiths seemed for a moment almost beside himself.  His eyes
glowed.  His long fingers twitched.  He kept edging a little nearer
to Lessingham.

"Both charges," the latter confessed, looking Sir Henry in the eyes,
"are true."

Then Philippa found herself.  She saw the sudden flash in her
husband's eyes, the grim fury in Griffiths' face.  She stepped once
more forward.

"Henry," she insisted, "you must listen to what I have to say."

"We have had enough words," Griffiths interposed savagely.

Sir Henry ignored the interruption.

"I am listening, Philippa," he said calmly.

"It was my intention an hour ago to leave this place with Mr.
Lessingham to-night," she told him deliberately.

"The devil it was!" Sir Henry muttered.

"As for the reason, you know it," she continued, her tone full of
courage.  "I am willing to throw myself at your feet now, but all
the same I was hardly treated.  I was made the scapegoat of your
stupid promise.  You kept me in ignorance of things a wife should
know.  You even encouraged me to believe you a coward, when a
single word from you would have changed everything.  Therefore, I
say that it is you who are responsible for what I nearly did, and
what I should have done but for him--listen, Henry--but for him!"

"But for him," her husband repeated curiously.

"It was Mr. Lessingham," she declared, "who opened my eyes concerning
you.  It was he who refused to let me yield to that impulse of anger.
Look at my coat there.  My bag is on that table.  I was ready to
leave with him to-night.  Before we went, he insisted on telling me
everything about you.  He could have escaped, and I was willing to
go with him.  Instead, he spent those precious minutes telling me
the truth about you.  That was the end."

"Lady Cranston omits to add," Lessingham put in, "that before I did
so she told me frankly that her feelings for me were of warm
friendliness--that her love was given to her husband, and her
husband only."

"How long is this to go on?" Griffiths asked harshly.  "I have the
authority here and the power to take that man.  These domestic
explanations have nothing to do with the case."

"Excuse me," Sir Henry retorted, with quiet emphasis, "they have a
great deal to do with it."

"I am Commandant of this place--" Griffiths commenced.

"And I possess an authority here which you had better not dispute,"
Sir Henry reminded him sternly.

There was a moment's tense silence.  Griffiths set his teeth hard,
but his hand wandered towards the back of his belt.

"I am now," Sir Henry continued, "going to announce to you a piece
of news, over which we shall all be gloating when to-morrow morning's
newspapers are issued, but which is not as yet generally known.
During last night, a considerable squadron of German cruisers managed
to cross the North Sea and found their way to a certain port of
considerable importance to us."

Lessingham started, His face was drawn as though with pain.  He had
the air of one who shrinks from the news he is about to hear.

"Incidentally," Sir Henry continued, "three-quarters of the squadron
also found their way to the bottom of the sea, and the other quarter
met our own squadron, lying in wait for their retreat, and will not
return."

Lessingham swayed for a moment upon his feet.  One could almost
fancy that Sir Henry's tone was tinged with pity as he turned
towards him.

"The chart of the mine field of which you possessed yourself," he said,
"which it was the object of your visit here to secure, was a chart
specially prepared for you.  You see, our own Secret Service is not
altogether asleep.  Those very safe and inviting-looking channels
for British and Allied traffic--I marked them very clearly, didn't
I?--were where I'd laid my mines.  The channels which your cruisers
so carefully avoided were the only safe avenues.  So you see why it
is, Maderstrom, that I have no grudge against you."

Lessingham's face for a moment was the face of a stricken man.
There was a look of dull horror in his eyes.

"Is this the truth?" he gasped.

"It is the truth," Sir Henry assured him gravely.

"Does this conclude the explanations?" Captain Griffiths demanded
impatiently.  "Your news is magnificent, Sir Henry.  As regards this
felon--"

Sir Henry held up his hand.

"Maderstrom's fate," he said, "is mine to deal with and not yours,
Captain Griffiths."

Philippa was the first to grasp the intentions of the man who was
standing only a few feet from her.  She threw herself upon his arm
and dragged down the revolver which he had raised.  Sir Henry, with
a shout of fury, was upon them at once.  He took Griffiths by the
throat and threw him upon the sofa.  The revolver clattered
harmlessly on to the carpet.

"His Majesty's Service has no use for madmen," he thundered.  "You
know that I possess superior authority here."

"That man shall not escape!" Griffiths shouted.

He struggled for his whistle.  Sir Henry snatched it from him and
picked up the revolver from the carpet.

"Look here, Griffiths," he remonstrated severely, "one single move
in opposition to my wishes will cost you your career.  Let there be
no misunderstanding about it.  That man will not be arrested by you
to-night."

Griffiths staggered to his feet.  He was half cowed, half furious.

"You take the responsibility for this, Sir Henry?" he demanded
thickly.  "The man is a proved traitor.  If you assist him to escape,
you are subject to penalties--"

Sir Henry threw open the door.

"Captain Griffiths," he interrupted, "I am not ignorant of my
position in this matter.  Believe me, your last chance of retaining
your position here is to remember that you have had specific orders
to yield to my authority in all matters.  Kindly leave this room
and take your soldiers back to their quarters."

Griffiths hesitated for a single moment.  He had the appearance of
a man half demented by a passion which could find no outlet.  Then
he left the room, without salute, without a glance to the right or
to the left.  Out in the hall, a moment later, they heard a harsh
voice of command.  The hall door was opened and closed behind the
sound of retreating footsteps.

"Sir Henry," Lessingham reminded him, "I have not asked for your
intervention."

"My dear fellow, you wouldn't," was the prompt reply.  "As for the
little trouble that has happened in the North Sea, don't take it
too much to heart, it was entirely the fault of the people who sent
you here."

"The fault of the people who sent me here," Lessingham repeated.
"I scarcely understand."

"It's simple enough," Sir Henry continued.  "You see, you are about
as fit to be a spy as Philippa, my wife here, is to be a detective.
You possess the one insuperable obstacle of having the instincts
of a gentleman.--Come, come," he went on, "we have nothing more to
say to one another.  Open that window and take the narrow path down
to the beach.  Jimmy Dumble is waiting for you at the gate.  He will
row you out to a Dutch trawler which is lying even now off the point."

"You mean me to get away?" Lessingham exclaimed, bewildered.

"Believe me, it will cost nothing," Sir Henry assured him.  "I was
not bluffing when I told Captain Griffiths that I had supreme
authority here.  He knows perfectly well that I am within my rights
in aiding your escape."

Philippa moved swiftly to where Lessingham was standing.  She gave
him her hands.

"Dear friend," she begged, "so wonderful a friend as you have been,
don't refuse this last thing."

"Be a sensible fellow, Maderstrom," Sir Henry said.  "Remember that
you can't do yourself or your adopted country a ha'porth of good by
playing the Quixote."

"Besides," Philippa continued, holding his hands tightly, "it is,
after all, only an exchange.  You have saved Henry's life, set
Richard free, and brought us happiness.  Why should you hesitate to
accept your own liberty?"

Sir Henry threw open the window and looked towards a green light
out at sea.

"There's your trawler," he pointed out, "and remember the tide will
turn in half an hour.  I don't wish to hurry you."

Lessingham raised Philippa's fingers to his lips.

"I shall think of you both always," he said simply.  "You are very
wonderful people."

He turned towards the window.  Sir Henry took up the Homburg hat
from the table by his side.

"Better take your hat," he suggested.

Lessingham paused, accepted it, and looked steadfastly at the donor.

"You knew from the first?" he asked.

"From the very first," Sir Henry assured him.  "Don't look so
confounded," he went on consolingly.  "Remember that espionage is
the only profession in which it is an honour to fail."

Philippa came a little shyly into her husband's arms, as he turned
back into the room.  The tenderness in his own face, however, and
a little catch in his voice, broke down at once the wall of reserve
which had grown up between them.

"My dear little woman!" he murmured.  "My little sweetheart!  You
don't know how I've ached to explain everything to you--including
the Russian ladies."

"Explain them at once, sir!" Philippa insisted, pretending to draw
her face away for a moment.

"They were the wife and sister-in-law of the Russian Admiral,
Draskieff, who was sent over to report upon our method of mine
laying," he told her.

"You and I have to go up to a little dinner they are giving to-morrow
or the next day."

"Oh, dear, what an idiot I was!" Philippa exclaimed ruefully.  "I
imagined--all sorts of things.  But, Henry dear," she went on, "do
you know that we have a great surprise for you--here in the house?"

"No surprise, dear," he assured her, shaking his head.  "I knew the
very hour that Richard left Wittenberg.  And here he is, by Jove!"

Richard and Helen entered together.  Philippa could not even wait
for the conclusion of the hearty but exceedingly British greeting
which passed between the two men.

"Listen to me, both of you!" she cried incoherently.  "Helen, you
especially!  You never heard anything so wonderful in your life!
They weren't fishing excursions at all.  There weren't any whiting.
Henry was laying mines all the time, and he's blown up half the
German fleet!  It's all in the Times this morning.  He's got a D.S.O.
--Henry has--and he's a Rear-Admiral!  Oh, Helen, I want to cry!"

The two women wandered into a far corner of the room.  Richard wrung
his brother-in-law's hand.

"Philippa isn't exactly coherent," he remarked, "but it sounds all
right."

"You see," Sir Henry explained, "I've been mine laying ever since
the war started.  I always had ideas of my own about mine fields,
as you may remember.  I started with Scotland, and then they moved
me down here.  The Admiralty thought they'd be mighty clever, and
they insisted upon my keeping my job secret.  It led to a little
trouble with Philippa, but I think we are through with all that.
--I suppose you know that those two young women have been engaged
in a regular conspiracy, Dick?"

"I know a little," Richard replied gravely, "and I'm sure you will
believe that I wouldn't have countenanced it for a moment if I'd
had any idea what they were up to."

"I'm sure you wouldn't," Sir Henry agreed.  "Anyway, it led to no
harm."

"Maderstrom, then," Richard asked, with a sudden more complete
apprehension of the affair, "was over here to spy upon you?"

"That's the ticket," Sir Henry assented.

Richard frowned.

"And he bribed Philippa and Helen with my liberty!"

"Don't you worry about that," his brother-in-law begged.  "They
must have known by instinct that a chap like Maderstrom couldn't do
any harm."

"Where is he now?" Richard asked eagerly.  "Helen insisted upon
keeping me out of the way but we've heard all sorts of rumours.  The
Commandant has been up here after him, hasn't he?"

"Yes, and I sent him away with a flea in his ear!  I don't like the
fellow."

"And Maderstrom?"

"The pseudo-Mr. Lessingham, eh?" Sir Henry observed.  "Well, to tell
you the truth, Dick, if there is one person I am a little sorry for
in the history of the last few weeks, it's Maderstrom."

"You, too?" Richard exclaimed.  "Why, every one seems crazy about
the fellow."

Sir Henry nodded.

"I remember him in your college days, Dick.  He was a gentleman and
a good sort, only unfortunately his mother was a German.  He did his
bit of soldiering with the Prussian Guards at the beginning of the
war, got a knock and volunteered for the Secret Service.  They sent
him over here.  The fellow must have no end of pluck, for, as I dare
say you know, they let him down from the observation car of a
Zeppelin.  He finds his way here all right, makes his silly little
bargain with our dear but gullible womenkind, and sets himself to
watch--to watch me, mind.  The whole affair is too ridiculously
transparent.  For a time he can't bring himself even to touch my
papers here, although, as it happens, they wouldn't have done him
the least bit of good.  It was only the stress and excitement of
the shipwreck last week that he ventured to steal the chart which
I had so carefully prepared for him.  I really think, if he hadn't
done that, I should have had to slip it into his pocket or absolutely
force it upon him somehow.  He sends it off like a lamb and behold
the result!  We've crippled the German Navy for the rest of the war."

"It was a faked chart, then, of course?" Richard demanded
breathlessly.

"And quite the cleverest I ever prepared," Sir Henry acknowledged.
"I can assure you that it would have taken in Von Tirpitz himself,
if he'd got hold of it."

"But where is Maderstrom now, sir?" Richard asked.

Sir Henry moved his head towards the window, where Philippa, for the
last few moments, had softly taken her place.  Her eyes were watching
a green light bobbing up and down in the distance.  Suddenly she gave
a little exclamation.

"It's moving!" she cried.  "He's off!"

"He's safe on a Dutch trawler," Sir Henry declared.  "And I think,"
he added, moving towards the sideboard, "it's time you and I had
a drink together, Dick."

They helped themselves to whisky and soda.  There were still many
explanations to be given.  Half-concealed by the curtain, Philippa
stood with her eyes turned seawards.  The green light was dimmer
now, and the low, black outline of the trawler crept slowly over
the glittering track of moonlight.  She gave a little start as it
came into sight.  There was a sob in her throat, tears burning in
her eyes.  Her fingers clutched the curtains almost passionately.
She stood there watching until her eyes ached.  Then she felt an
arm around her waist and her husband's whisper in her ear.

"I haven't let you wander too far, have I, Phil?"

She turned quickly towards him, eager for the comfort of his
extended arms.  Her face was buried in his shoulder.

"You know," she murmured.





End of Project Gutenberg Etext of The Zeppelin's Passenger, by Oppenheim


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