Lessingham stood for a moment by the side of the car from which he had just descended, glanced at the huge tires and the tins of petrol lashed on behind.
“Nothing more you want, chauffeur?” he asked.
“Nothing, sir,” was the almost inaudible reply.
“You have the route map?”
“Yes, sir, and enough petrol for three hundred miles.”
Lessingham turned away, pushed open the gate, and walked up the drive of Mainsail Haul. Decidedly it was the moment of his life. He was hard-pressed, as he knew, by others besides Griffiths. A few hours now was all the start he could reasonably expect. He was face to face with a very real and serious danger, which he could no longer ignore, and from which escape was all the time becoming more difficult. And yet all the emotionalism of this climax was centered elsewhere. It was from Philippa’s lips that he would hear his real sentence; it was her answer which would fill him once more with the lust for life, or send him on in his rush through the night for safety, callous, almost indifferent as to its result.
He walked up the drive, curiously at his ease, in a state of suspended animation, which knew no hope and feared no disappointment. Just before he reached the front door, the postern gate in the wall on his left-hand side opened, and Philippa stood there, muffled up in her fur coat, framed in the faint and shadowy moonlight against the background of seabounded space. He moved eagerly towards her.
“I heard the car,” she whispered. “Come and sit down for a moment. It isn’t in the least cold, and the moon is just coming up over the sea. I came out,” she went on, as he walked obediently by her side, “because the house somehow stifled me.”
She led him to a seat. Below, the long waves were breaking through upon the rocks, throwing little fountains of spray into the air. The village which lay at their feet was silent and lifeless—there was, indeed, a curious absence of sound, except when the incoming waves broke upon the rocks and ground the pebbles together in their long, backward swish. Very soon the sleeping country, now wrapped in shadows, would take form and outline in the light of the rising moon; hedges would divide the square fields, the black woods would take shape and the hills their mystic solemnity. But those few minutes were minutes of suspense. Lessingham was to some extent conscious of their queer, allegorical significance.
“I have come,” he reminded her quite steadily, “for my answer.”
She showed him the small bag by her side upon the seat, and touched her cloak. She was indeed prepared for a journey.
“You see,” she told him, “here I am.”
His face was suddenly transformed. She was almost afraid of the effect of her words. She found herself struggling in his arms.
“Not yet,” she begged. “Please remember where we are.”