The Zeppelin's Passenger
E. Phillips Oppenheim
Part 4 out of 5
"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
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 -=20
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
"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
"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
"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
"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=20had 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
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."
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?"
"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
"If anything further happens this evening, I think I shall go mad,"
"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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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,=20sometimes 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
"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
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
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
"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 be 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
He was even able to smile at her.
"I am quite all right," he assured her once more.
Philippa, unusually early on the following morning, glanced at the
empty breakfast table with a little air of disappointment, and rang
"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?" 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
"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
"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.
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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
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.
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."
"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
"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
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
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,
"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
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.
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
"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,"
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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
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,
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."
"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
"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!"
"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
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
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."
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 fianc=82e.
"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
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
"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
"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.=20
"In coming back here?"
"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
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
"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
"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
Lessingham held out his hand. Suddenly Richard dropped his. His
expression had become sterner.
"I don't understand," he said simply. "Somebody please explain."
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
"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
Philippa laid her hand upon her brother's arm.
"Dick, dear, do remember that they were starving you to death!"
"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
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
"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
"And you have brought it to a successful conclusion?"
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 be 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!"
"Give information. Do you know what it would mean if they believed
"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
"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
"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=20them 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."
"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.
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
She glanced down at her high-necked gown and avoided Helen's anxious
"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?"
"But what excuse does he give - or rather I should say reason?"
"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."
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