“Do you mean that you want me to go at once, before luncheon?” he asked the orderly.
The man pointed to the car.
“My instructions were to take you back at once, sir.”
“Come and have a drink first, at any rate,” Geoffrey Anselman insisted.
The orderly shook his head, the two soldiers were barring the gateway.
“Some one from the War Office has arrived and is waiting to speak to Captain Granet,” he announced.
“We’re all coming over after lunch,” young Anselman protested. “Wouldn’t that do?”
The man made no answer. Granet, with a shrug of the shoulders, stepped into the motor-car. The two soldiers mounted motor-cycles and the little cavalcade turned away. Granet made a few efforts at conversation with his companion, but, meeting with no response, soon relapsed into silence. In less than twenty minutes the car was slowing down before the approach to the Hall. The lane was crowded with villagers and people from the neighbouring farmhouses, who were all kept back, however, by a little cordon of soldiers. Granet, closely attended by his escort, made his way slowly into the avenue and up towards the house. A corner of the left wing of the building was in ruins, blackened and still smouldering, and there was a great hole in the sand-blown lawn, where a bomb had apparently fallen. A soldier admitted them at the front entrance and his guide led him across the hall and into a large room on the other side of the house, an apartment which seemed to be half library, half morning-room. Sir Meyville and a man in uniform were talking together near the window. They turned around at Granet’s entrance and he gave a little start. For the first time a thrill of fear chilled him, his self-confidence was suddenly dissipated. The man who stood watching him with cold scrutiny was the one man on earth whom he feared—Surgeon Major Thomson.
It was a queer little gathering in the drawing-room of Market Burnham Hall, queer and in a sense ominous. Two soldiers guarded the door. Another one stood with his back to the wide-flung window, the sunlight flashing upon his drawn bayonet. Granet, although he looked about him for a moment curiously, carried himself with ease and confidence.
“How do you do, Sir Meyville?” he said. “How are you, Thomson?”
Sir Meyville, who was in a state of great excitement, took absolutely no notice of the young man’s greeting. Thomson pointed to a chair, in which Granet at once seated himself.
“I have sent for you, Captain Granet,” the former began, “to ask you certain questions with reference to the events of last night.”
“Delighted to tell you anything I can,” Granet replied. “Isn’t this a little out of your line, though, Thomson?”
Sir Meyville suddenly leaned forward.
“That is the young man,” he declared. “I took him to be the officer in command here and I showed him over my workshop. Quite a mistake—absolutely a wrong impression!”