“You can have the whole cellarful,” Philippa assured him joyously. “Be sure you bring the best, Mills.”
“The Perrier Jonet 1904, your ladyship,” was the murmured reply.
Mills’ disappearance was very brief, and in a very few moments they found themselves seated once more at the table. They sat one on either side of him, watching his glass and his plate. By degrees their questions and his answers became more intelligible.
“When did you get here?” they wanted to know.
“I arrived in Harwich about daylight this morning,” he told them; “came across from Holland. I hired a car and drove straight here.”
“When did you know you were coming home?” Helen asked.
“Only two days ago,” he replied. “I never was so surprised in my life. Even now I can’t realise my good luck. I can’t see what I’ve done. The last two months, in fact, seem to me to have been a dream. Jove!” he went on, as he drank his wine, “I never thought I should be such a pig as to care so much for eating and drinking!”
“And think what weeks of it you have before you?” Helen explained, clapping her hands. “Philippa and I will have a new interest in life—to make you fat.”
“It won’t be very difficult,” he promised them. “I had several months of semi-starvation before the miracle happened. It was all just the chance of having had a pal up at Magdalen who’s been serving in the German Army—Bertram Maderstrom was his name. You remember him, Philippa? He was a Swede in those days.”
“What a dear he must have been to have remembered and to have been so faithful!” Philippa observed, looking away for a moment.
“He’s a real good sort,” Felstead declared enthusiastically, “although Heaven knows why he’s turned German! He worked like a slave for me. I dare say he didn’t find it so difficult to get me better quarters and a servant, and decent food, but when they told me that I was free—well, it nearly knocked me silly.”
“The dear fellow!” Philippa murmured pensively.
“Do you remember him, either of you?” Felstead continued. “Rather good-looking he was, and a little shy, but quite a sportsman.”
“I—seem to remember,” Philippa admitted.
“The name sounds familiar,” Helen echoed. “Do have some more chutney, Dick.”
“Thanks! What a pig I am making of myself!” he observed cheerfully. “You girls will think I can’t talk about any one but Maderstrom, but the whole business beats me so completely. Of course, we were great pals, in a way, but I never thought that I was the apple of his eye, or anything of that sort. How he got the influence, too, I can’t imagine. And oh! I knew there was something else I was going to ask you girls,” Felstead went on. “Have you ever had a letter, or rather a letter each, uncensored? Just a line or two? I think I mentioned Maderstrom which I should not have been allowed to do in the ordinary prison letters.”