He opened his lips to speak but stopped short. It was obvious that she was deeply in earnest.
“And as for the other thing you spoke of,” she continued, “please won’t you do as I beg you and not refer to it again for the present? Perhaps,” she added, “when the war is over we may speak of it, but just now everything is so confused. I, too, seem to have lost my bearings. . . .You know that I am going out to Boulogne in a few days with Lady Headley’s hospital? Don’t look so frightened. I am not an amateur nurse, I can assure you. I have all my certificates.”
“To Boulogne?” he muttered. “You are going to leave London?”
“Major Thomson arranged it for me, a few days ago. We may meet there at any time,” she added, smiling. “I am perfectly certain that the War Office will find you something abroad very soon.”
For a moment that queer look of boyish strength which had first attracted her, reasserted itself. His teeth came together.
“Yes,” he agreed, “there’s work for me somewhere. I’ll find it. Only—”
She checked him hurriedly.
“And I am quite sure,” she interrupted, “that when you are yourself again you will agree with me. These are not the times for us to have any selfish thoughts, are they?”
“Until a few weeks ago,” he told her, “I thought of nothing but the war and my work in it—until you came, that is.”
She held out her hands to check him. Her eyes were eloquent.
“Please remember,” she begged, “that it is too soon. I can’t bear to have you talk to me like that. Afterwards—”
“There will be no afterwards for me!” he exclaimed bitterly.
A shade of surprise became mingled with her agitation.
“You mustn’t talk like that,” she protested, “you with your splendid courage and opportunities! Think what you have done already. England wants the best of her sons to-day. Can’t you be content to give that and to wait? We have so much gratitude in our hearts, we weak women, for those who are fighting our battle.”
Her words failed to inspire him. He took her hand and lifted her fingers deliberately to his lips.
“I was foolish,” he groaned, “to think that you could feel as I do. Good-bye!”
Geraldine was alone when her mother came into the room a few minutes later. Lady Conyers was looking a little fluttered and anxious.
“Was that Captain Granet?” she asked.
Geraldine nodded. Lady Conyers anxiety deepened.
“I have sent him away,” Geraldine said quietly, “until the end of the war.”
Granet brought his car to a standstill outside the portals of that very august club in Pall Mall. The hall-porter took in his name and a few minutes his uncle joined him in the strangers’ room.
“Back again so soon, Ronnie?”
“America’s off,” he announced shortly. “I thought I’d better let you know. It must be the whole thing now.”