“In the hall.”
“If I let you come in,” Sir Henry continued, “will you come alone?”
“I should prefer it,” was the eager reply. “I wish to make this business as little unpleasant to—to everybody as possible.”
Sir Henry softly turned the key, opened the door, and admitted Griffiths. The man seemed to see no one else but Lessingham. He would have hastened at once towards him, but Sir Henry laid his hand upon his arm.
“You must kindly restrain your impatience for a few moments,” he insisted. “This is a private conference. Your business with the Baron Maderstrom can be adjusted later.”
“It is my duty,” Griffiths proclaimed impatiently, “to arrest that man as a spy. I have authority, granted me this morning in London.”
“Quite so,” Sir Henry observed, “but we are in the midst of a very interesting little discussion which I intend to conclude. Your turn will come later, Captain Griffiths.”
“I can countenance no discussion with such men as that,” Griffiths declared scornfully. “I am here in the execution of my duty, and I resent any interference with it.”
“No one wishes to interfere with you,” Sir Henry assured him, “but until I say the word you will obey my orders.”
“So far as I am concerned,” Lessingham intervened, “I wish it to be understood that I offer no defence.”
“You have no defence,” Sir Henry reminded him suavely. “I gather that not only had you the effrontery to steal a chart from my pocket in the midst of a life struggle upon the trawler, but you have capped this exploit with a deliberate attempt to abduct my wife.”
Griffiths seemed for a moment almost beside himself. His eyes glowed. His long fingers twitched. He kept edging a little nearer to Lessingham.
“Both charges,” the latter confessed, looking Sir Henry in the eyes, “are true.”
Then Philippa found herself. She saw the sudden flash in her husband’s eyes, the grim fury in Griffiths’ face. She stepped once more forward.
“Henry,” she insisted, “you must listen to what I have to say.”
“We have had enough words,” Griffiths interposed savagely.
Sir Henry ignored the interruption.
“I am listening, Philippa,” he said calmly.
“It was my intention an hour ago to leave this place with Mr. Lessingham to-night,” she told him deliberately.
“The devil it was!” Sir Henry muttered.
“As for the reason, you know it,” she continued, her tone full of courage. “I am willing to throw myself at your feet now, but all the same I was hardly treated. I was made the scapegoat of your stupid promise. You kept me in ignorance of things a wife should know. You even encouraged me to believe you a coward, when a single word from you would have changed everything. Therefore, I say that it is you who are responsible for what I nearly did, and what I should have done but for him—listen, Henry—but for him!”