“Odino,” he muttered to himself. “Here it is: ’We have trustworthy information from Berlin.’ Now Berry.” He turned back. “’You are being watched by an enemy secret service agent.’”
He relocked the cipher book and replaced it in the desk. Then he strolled over to his easy-chair and helped himself to a whisky and soda from the tray which Mills had just arranged upon the sideboard.
“We have trustworthy information from Berlin,” he repeated to himself, “that you are being watched by an enemy secret service agent.”
“Tell me, Mr. Lessingham,” Philippa insisted, “exactly what are you thinking of? You looked so dark and mysterious from the ridge below that I’ve climbed up on purpose to ask you.”
Lessingham held out his hand to steady her. They were standing on a sharp spur of the cliffs, the north wind blowing in their faces, thrashing into little flecks of white foam the sea below, on which the twilight was already resting. For a moment or two neither of them could speak.
“I was thinking of my country,” he confessed. “I was looking through the shadows there, right across the North Sea.”
He shook his head.
“Further away—to Sweden.”
“I forgot,” she murmured. “You looked as though you were posing for a statue of some one in exile,” she observed. “Come, let us go a little lower down—unless you want to stay here and be blown to pieces.”
“I was on my way back to the hotel,” he answered quickly, as he followed her lead, “but to tell you the truth I was feeling a little lonely.”
“That,” she declared, “is your own fault. I asked you to come to Mainsail Haul whenever you felt inclined.”
“As I have felt inclined ever since the evening I arrived,” he remarked with a smile, “you might, perhaps, by this time have had a little too much of me.”
“On the contrary,” she told him, “I quite expected you yesterday afternoon, to tell me how you like the place and what you have been doing. So you were thinking about—over there?” she added, moving her head seawards.
“Over there absorbs a great deal of one’s thoughts,” he confessed, “and the rest of them have been playing me queer tricks.”
“Well, I should like to hear about the first half,” she insisted.
“Do you know,” he replied, “there are times when even now this war seems to me like an unreal thing, like something I have been reading about, some wild imagining of Shelley or one of the unrestrainable poets. I can’t believe that millions of the flower of Germany’s manhood and yours have perished helplessly, hopelessly, cruelly. And France—poor decimated France!”
“Well, Germany started the war, you know,” she reminded him.
“Did she?” he answered. “I sometimes wonder. Even now I fancy, if the official papers of every one of the nations lay side by side, with their own case stated from their own point of view, even you might feel a little confused about that. Still, I am going to be very honest with you. I think myself that Germany wanted war.”