“If you want me ever to be happy again, you will,” she sobbed. “For Helen’s sake as well as mine, help Mr. Lessingham to escape.”
Lessingham took a quick step forward. He had the air of one who has reached the limits of his endurance.
“You mean this kindly, Lady Cranston, I know,” he said, “but I desire no intervention.”
Sir Henry patted his wife’s hand and held her a little away from him. There was a curious but unmistakable change in his deportment. His mouth had not altogether lost its humorous twist, but his jaw seemed more apparent, the light in his eyes was keener, and there was a ring of authority in his tone.
“Come,” he said, “let us understand one another, Philippa, and you had better listen, too, Mr. Lessingham. I can promise you that your chances of escape will not be diminished by my taking up these few minutes of your time. Philippa,” he went on, turning back to her, “you have always posed as being an exceedingly patriotic Englishwoman, yet it seems to me that you have made a bargain with this man, knowing full well that he was in the service of Germany, to give him shelter and hospitality here, access to my house and protection amongst your friends, in return for certain favours shown towards your brother.”
Philippa was speechless. It was a view of the matter which she and Helen had striven so eagerly to avoid.
“But, Henry,” she protested, “his stay here seemed so harmless. You yourself have laughed at the idea of espionage at Dreymarsh. There is nothing to discover. There is nothing going on here which the whole world might not know.”
“That was never my plea,” Lessingham intervened.
“Nor is it the truth,” Sir Henry added sternly.
“The Baron Maderstrom was sent here, Philippa, to spy upon me, to gain access by any means to this house, to steal, if he could, certain plans and charts prepared by me.”
Philippa began to tremble. She seemed bereft of words.
“He told me this,” she faltered. “He told me not half an hour ago.”
There was a tapping at the door. Sir Henry moved towards it but did not turn the key.
“Who is that?” he asked.
“Captain Griffiths is here with an escort, sir,” Mills announced. “He has seized the motor car outside, and he begs to be allowed to come in.”
Mills’ words were plainly audible throughout the room. Philippa made eager signs to Lessingham, pointing to the French windows. Lessingham, however, shook his head.
“I prefer,” he said gently, “to finish my conversation with your husband."’
There was another and more insistent summons from outside. This time it was Captain Griffiths’ raucous voice.
“Sir Henry Cranston,” he called out, “I am here with authority. I beg to be admitted.”
“Where is your escort?”