Thomson held up his finger and stopped a taxicab.
“You won’t be annoyed with me, will you?” he said to Conyers. “If you’d heard half the stories I had of the things we have given away quite innocently—”
“That’s all right,” the young man interrupted, “only you mustn’t think I’m a gas-bag just because I said a word or two here before Gerry and Olive and you, old fellow.”
“Must you go, Hugh?” Geraldine asked.
“I am so sorry,” he replied, “but I must. I really have rather an important appointment this afternoon.”
“An appointment!” she grumbled. “You are in London for so short a time and you seem to be keeping appointments all the while. I sha’n’t let you go unless you tell me what it’s about.”
“I have to inspect a new pattern of camp bedstead,” he explained calmly. “If I may, I will telephone directly I am free and see if you are at liberty.”
She shrugged her shoulders but gave him a pleasant little nod as he stepped into the taxi.
“Sober old stick, Thomson,” her brother observed, as they started off. “I didn’t like his pulling me up like that but I expect he was right.”
“I don’t see what business it was of his and I think it was rather horrid of him,” Olive declared. “As though Gerry or I mattered!”
“A chap like Thomson hasn’t very much discretion, you see,” Ralph Conyers remarked. “You’ll have to wake him up a bit, Gerry, if you mean to get any fun out of life.”
There was just the faintest look of trouble in Geraldine’s face. She remained perfectly loyal, however.
“Some of us take life more seriously than others,” she sighed. “Hugh is one of them. When one remembers all the terrible things he must have seen, though, it is very hard to find fault with him.”
They turned into the Square and paused before Olive’s turning.
“You’re coming down with me, Ralph, and you too, Geraldine?” she invited.
Conyers shook his head regretfully.
“I’m due at the Admiralty at four to receive my final instructions,” he said. “I must move along at once.”
The smile suddenly faded from his lips. He seemed to be listening to the calling of the newsboys down the street. “I don’t know what my instructions are going to be,” he continued, dropping his voice a little, “but I’m sick of making war the way our chaps are doing it. If ever I’m lucky enough to get one of those murderous submarines, I can promise you one thing—there’ll be no survivors.”
For a moment or two they neither of them spoke. From out of the windows of the house before which they were standing came the music of a popular waltz. Olive turned a way with a little shiver.