Granet nodded and left the room quietly. Every one in the Dormy House was sound asleep. He made his way back to his own apartment without difficulty. Only the little man remained seated at the window, with his eyes fixed upon the bank of murky clouds which lowered over the sea.
Isabel Worth leaned back in the comfortable seat by Granet’s side and breathed a little sigh of content. She had enjoyed her luncheon party a deux, their stroll along the sands afterwards, and she was fully prepared to enjoy this short drive homewards.
“What a wonderful car yours is!” she murmured. “But do tell me—what on earth have you got in behind?”
“It’s just a little experimental invention of a friend of mine,” he explained. “Some day we are going to try it on one of these creeks. It’s a collapsible canvas boat.”
“Don’t try it anywhere near us,” she laughed. “Two of the fishermen from Wells sailed in a little too close to the shed yesterday and the soldiers fired a volley at them.”
Garnet made a grimace.
“Do you know I am becoming most frightfully curious about your father’s work?” he observed.
“Are you really?” she replied carelessly. “For my part, I wouldn’t even take the trouble to climb up the ladder into the workshop.”
“But you must know something about what is going on there?” Granet persisted.
“I really don’t,” she assured him. “It’s some wonderful invention, I believe, but I can’t help resenting anything that makes us live like hermits, suspect even the tradespeople, give up entertaining altogether, give up even seeing our friends. I hope you are not going to hurry away, Captain Granet. I haven’t had a soul to speak to down here for months.”
“I don’t think I shall go just yet,” he answered. “I want first to accomplish what I came here for.”
She turned her head very slowly and looked at him. There was quite a becoming flush upon her cheeks.
“What did you come for?” she asked softly.
He was silent for a moment. Already his foot was on the brake of the car; they were drawing near the plain, five-barred gates.
“Perhaps I am not quite sure about that myself,” he whispered.
They had come to a standstill. She descended reluctantly.
“I hate to send you away,” she sighed, “it seems so inhospitable. Will you come in for a little time? The worst that can happen, if we meet dad, is that he might be rather rude.”
“I’ll risk it with pleasure,” Granet replied.
“Can I see your collapsible boat?” she asked, peering in behind.
He shook his head.
“It isn’t my secret,” he said, “and besides, I don’t think my friend has the patent for it yet.”
The sentry stood by and allowed them to pass, although he looked searchingly at Granet. They walked slowly up the scrubby avenue to the house. Once Granet paused to look down at the long arm of the sea on his left.