“I believe so, sir. He seemed very weak and ill, though. In fact he had to be carried to the automobile.”
“I suppose he didn’t give any reason for his sudden attack?”
“None that I am aware of, sir.”
Thomson stood for a moment deep in thought, then he turned away from the desk.
“Thank you very much indeed,” he said to the clerk. “The man’s case rather interested me. I think I shall ask Lady Anselman to allow me to visit him. Where did you say the house was?”
“Her ladyship did not mention the exact locality,” the man replied. “I believe, however, that it is near the Isle of Wight.”
“A most suitable neighbourhood,” Major Thomson murmured, as he turned away from the hotel.
“I wonder why you don’t like Captain Granet?” Geraldine asked her fiance, as they stood in the drawing-room waiting for dinner.
“Not like him?” Thomson repeated. “Have I really given you that impression, Geraldine?”
The girl nodded.
“Perhaps I ought not to say that, though,” she confessed. “You are never particularly enthusiastic about people, are you?”
One of his rare smiles transfigured his face. He leaned a little towards her.
“Not about many people, Geraldine,” he whispered.
She made a charming little grimace but a moment afterwards she was serious again.
“But really,” she continued, “to me Captain Granet seems just the type of young Englishman who is going to save the country. He is a keen soldier, clever, modest, and a wonderful sportsman. I can’t think what there is about him for any one to dislike.”
Major Thomson glanced across the room. In a way, he and the man whom he felt instinctively was in some sense of the word his rival, even though an undeclared one, were of exactly opposite types. Granet was the centre of a little group of people who all seemed to be hanging upon his conversation. He was full of high spirits and humour, debonair, with all the obvious claims to popularity. Thomson, on the other hand, although good-looking, even distinguished in his way, was almost too slim and pale. His face was more the face of a scholar than of one interested in or anxious to shine in the social side of life. His manners and his speech were alike reserved, his air of breeding was apparent, but he had not the natural ease or charm which was making Granet, even in those few minutes, persona grata with Geraldine’s mother and a little circle of newly-arrived guests.
“At least I appreciate your point of view,” Major Thomson admitted, with a faint sigh.
“Don’t be such a dear old stick,” Geraldine laughed. “I want you to like him because I find him so interesting. You see, as he gets to know one a little better he doesn’t seem to mind talking about the war. You others will scarcely say a word of what you have seen or of what is being done out there. I like to be told things by people who have actually seen them. He happened to be ten minutes early this evening and he gave me a most fascinating description of some skirmishing near La Bassee.”