The little party broke up once more into groups. Granet, who had drawn for a moment apart and seemed to be adjusting the knots of his sling, turned to Thomson.
“Has he recovered consciousness yet?” he asked.
“Barely,” was the terse reply.
“There was no special cause for his going off like that, I suppose?”
Surgeon-Major Thomson’s silence was scarcely a hesitation. He was standing perfectly still, his eyes fixed upon the young soldier.
“At present,” he said, “I am not quite clear about that. If you are ready, Geraldine?”
She nodded and they made their farewells to Lady Anselman. Granet looked after them with a slight frown. He drew his aunt on one side for a moment.
“Why is Miss Conyers here without a chaperon?” he asked. “And why did she go away with Thomson?”
Lady Anselman laughed.
“Didn’t she tell you?”
“Tell me what?” he insisted eagerly.
Lady Anselman looked at her nephew curiously.
“Evidently,” she remarked, “your progress with the young lady was not so rapid as it seemed, or she would have told you her secret—which, by-the-bye, isn’t a secret at all. She and Major Thomson are engaged to be married.”
A few rays of fugitive sunshine were brightening Piccadilly when Geraldine and her escort left the Ritz. The momentary depression occasioned by the dramatic little episode of a few minutes ago, seemed already to have passed from the girl’s manner. She walked on, humming to herself. As they paused to cross the road, she glanced as though involuntarily at her companion. His dark morning clothes and rather abstracted air created an atmosphere of sombreness about him of which she was suddenly conscious.
“Hugh, why don’t you wear uniform in town?” she asked.
“Why should I?” he replied. “After all, I am not really a fighting man, you see.”
“It’s so becoming,” she sighed.
He seemed to catch the reminiscent flash in her eyes as she looked down the street, and a shadow of foreboding clouded his mind.
“You found Captain Granet interesting?”
“Very,” she assented heartily. “I think he is delightful, don’t you?”
“He certainly seems to be a most attractive type of young man,” Thomson admitted.
“And how wonderful to have had such adventures!” she continued. “Life has become so strange, though, during the last few months. To think that the only time I ever saw him before was at a polo match, and to-day we sit side by side in a restaurant, and, although he won’t speak of them, one knows that he has had all manner of marvellous adventures. He was one of those who went straight from the playing fields to look for glory, wasn’t he, Hugh? He made a hundred and thirty-two for Middlesex the day before the war was declared.”