Granet, a few days later, brought his car to a standstill in front of an ordinary five-barred gate upon which was painted in white letters “Market Burnham Hall.” A slight grey mist was falling and the country inland was almost blotted from sight. On the other side of the gate a sandy driver disappeared into an avenue of ragged and stunted elm trees, which effectually concealed any view of the house.
“Seems as though the girl were right,” Granet muttered to himself. “However, here goes.”
He backed his car close to the side of the hedge, and laying his hand upon the latch of the gate, prepared to swing it open. Almost immediately a figure stepped out from the shrubs.
Granet looked with surprise at the khaki-clad figure.
“Your name and destination?” the man demanded.
“Captain Granet of the Royal Fusiliers, home from the Front on leave,” Granet replied. “I was going up to the Hall to call on Miss Worth.”
“Stay where you are, if you please, sir,” the man replied.
He stepped back into the sentry box and spoke through a telephone. In a moment or two he reappeared.
“Pass on, please, sir,” he said.
Granet walked slowly up the avenue, his hands behind him, a frown upon his forehead. Perhaps, after all, things were not to be so easy for him. On either side he could see the stretches of sand, and here and there the long creeks of salt water. As he came nearer to the house, the smell of the sea grew stronger, the tops of the trees were more bowed than ever, sand was blown everywhere across the hopeless flower-beds. The house itself, suddenly revealed, was a grim weather-beaten structure, built on the very edge of a queer, barrow-like tongue of land which ended with the house itself. The sea was breaking on the few yards of beach sheer below the windows. To his right was a walled garden, some lawns and greenhouses; to the left, stables, a garage, and two or three labourer’s cottages. At the front door another soldier was stationed doing sentry duty. He stood on one side, however, and allowed Granet to ring the bell.
“Officers quartered here?” Granet inquired.
“Only one, sir,” the man replied.
The door was opened almost immediately by a woman-servant. She did not wait for Granet to announce himself but motioned him to follow her into a large, circular, stone hall, across which she led him quickly and threw open the door of the drawing-room. Isabel Worth was standing just inside the room, as though listening. She held out her hand and there was no doubt about her welcome.
“Captain Granet,” she said almost in a whisper, “of course you’ll think we are all mad, but would you mind coming upstairs into my little sitting-room?”
“Of course not,” Granet acquiesced. “I’ll come anywhere, with pleasure. What a view you have from here!”