“Sounds exciting,” Richard observed. “What form of destruction was Henry courting?”
“There was a trawler shipwrecked in the storm,” Philippa explained. “You can see it from all the front windows. Henry was on board, returning from one of his fishing excursions. They were trying to find Dumble’s anchorage and were driven in on to that low ridge of rock. A rope broke, or something, they had no more rockets, and Mr. Lessingham swam out with the line.”
“Sounds like a plucky chap,” Richard admitted.
Philippa rose to her feet regretfully.
“I expect he has come to wish us good-by,” she said. “I’ll leave you with Helen, Dick. Don’t let her overfeed you. And you know where the cigars are, Helen. Take Dick into the gun room afterwards. You’ll have it all to yourselves and there is a fire there.”
Philippa entered the library in a state of agitation for which she was glad to have some reasonable excuse. She held out both her hands to Lessingham.
“Dick is back—just arrived!” she exclaimed. “I can’t tell you how happy we are, and how grateful!”
Lessingham raised her fingers to his lips.
“I am glad,” he said simply. “Do you mean that he is in the house here, now?”
“He is in the dining room with Helen.”
Lessingham for a moment was thoughtful.
“Don’t you think,” he suggested, “that it would be better to keep us apart?”
“I was wondering,” she confessed.
“Have you told him about my bringing the letters?”
She shook her head.
“We nearly did. Then I stopped—I wasn’t sure.”
“You were wise,” he said.
“Are you wise?” she asked him quickly.
“In coming back here?”
“Captain Griffiths knows everything,” she reminded him. “He is simply furious because your arrest was interfered with. I really believe that he is dangerous.”
Lessingham was unmoved.
“I had to come back,” he said simply.
“Why did you go away so suddenly?”
“Well, I had to do that, too,” he replied, “only the governing causes were very different. We will speak, if you do not mind, only of the cause which has brought me back. That I believe you know already.”
Philippa was curiously afraid. She looked towards the door as though with some vague hope of escape. She realised that the necessity for decision had arrived.
“Philippa,” he went on, “do you see what this is?”
He handed her two folded slips of paper. She started. At the top of one she recognised a small photograph of herself.
“What are they?” she asked. “What does it mean?”
“They are passports for America,” he told her.
“For—for me?” she faltered.
“For you and me.”
They slipped from her fingers. He picked them up from the carpet. Her face was hidden for a moment in her hands.