“Griffiths has gone to London,” he reminded her.
“Yes, but he may be back by this train,” she cried, glancing at the clock, “and I have a strange sort of fancy—I have had it all day —that Henry might come, too. It is overdue now. Any one might arrive here. Oh, please, for my sake, hurry away!” she begged, the tears streaming from her eyes. “If anything should happen, I could never forgive myself. It is because you have been so dear, so true and honourable, that all this time has been wasted. If it were to cost you your life!”
She was seized by a fit of nervous anxiety which became almost a paroxysm. She buttoned his coat for him and almost dragged him to the door. And then she stopped for a moment to listen. Her eyes became distended. Her lips were parted. She shook as though with an ague.
“It is too late!” she faltered hysterically. “I can hear Henry’s voice! Quick! Come to the window. You must get out that way and through the postern gate.”
“Your husband will have seen the car,” he protested. “And besides, there is your dressing-bag and your travelling coat.”
“I shall tell him everything,” she declared wildly. “Nothing matters except that you escape. Oh, hurry! I can hear Henry talking to Jimmy Dumble—for God’s sake—”
The words died away upon her lips. The door had been opened and closed again immediately. There was the quick turn of the lock, sounding like the click of fate. Sir Henry, well inside the room, nodded to them both affably.
“Well, Philippa? You weren’t expecting me, eh? Hullo, Lessingham! Not gone yet? Running it a trifle fine, aren’t you?”
Lessingham glanced towards the fastened door.
“Perhaps,” he admitted, “a trifle too fine.”
Sir Henry was suddenly taken by storm. Philippa had thrown herself into his arms. Her fingers were locked around his neck. Her lips, her eyes, were pleading with him.
“Henry! Henry, you must forgive me! I never knew—I never dreamed what you were really doing. I shall never forgive myself, but you —you will be generous.”
“That’s all right, dear,” he promised, stooping down to kiss her. “Partly my fault, of course. I had to humour those old ladies down at Whitehall who wanted me to pose as a particularly harmless idiot. You see,” he went on, glancing towards Lessingham, “they were always afraid that my steps might be dogged by spies, if my position were generally known.”
Philippa did not relinquish her attitude. She was still clinging to her husband. She refused to let him go.
“Henry,” she begged, “oh, listen to me! I have so much to confess, so much of which I am ashamed! And yet, with it all, I want to entreat—to implore one great favour from you.”
Sir Henry looked down into his wife’s face.
“Is it one I can grant?” he asked gravely.