“Come in, Arthur,” she shouted to a young subaltern who was hovering in the background. “Look what I’ve got, Helen! A trophy! Just look, Mr. Harrison and Captain Griffiths! I found it in a bush, not twenty yards from where the observation car came down.”
Helen turned the hat around in amused bewilderment.
“But, my dear child,” she exclaimed, “this is nothing but an ordinary hat! People who travel in Zeppelins don’t wear things like that. How do you do, Mr. Somerfield?” she added, smiling at the young man who had followed Nora into the room.
“Don’t they!” the latter retorted, with an air of superior knowledge. “Just look here!”
She turned down the lining and showed it to them. “What do you make of that?” she asked triumphantly.
Helen gazed at the gold-printed letters a little incredulously.
“Read it out,” Nora insisted.
Unter den Linden, 127.”
“That sounds German,” she admitted.
“It’s a trophy, all right,” Nora declared. “One of the crew— probably the Commander—must have come on board in a hurry and changed into uniform after they had started.”
“It is my painful duty, Miss Nora,” Harrison announced solemnly, “to inform you, on behalf of Captain Griffiths, that all articles of whatsoever description, found in the vicinity of Dutchman’s Common, which might possibly have belonged to any one in the Zeppelin, must be sent at once to the War Office.”
“Rubbish!” Nora scoffed. “The War Office aren’t going to have my hat.”
“Duty,” the young man began—
“You can go back to the Depot and do your duty, then, Mr. Harrison,” Nora interrupted, “but you’re not going to have my hat. I’d throw it into the fire sooner than give it up.”
“Military regulations must be obeyed, Miss Nora,” Captain Griffiths ventured thoughtfully.
“Nothing so important as hats,” Harrison put in. “You see they fit —somebody.”
The girl’s gesture was irreverent but convincing. “I’d listen to anything Captain Griffiths had to say,” she declared, “but you boys who are learning to be soldiers are simply eaten up with conceit. There’s nothing in your textbook about hats. If you’re going to make yourselves disagreeable about this, I shall simply ignore the regiment.”
The two young men fell into attitudes of mock dismay. Nora took a chocolate from a box.
“Be merciful, Miss Nora!” Harrison pleaded tearfully.
“Don’t break the regiment up altogether,” Somerfield begged, with a little catch in his voice.
“All very well for you two to be funny,” Nora went on, revisiting the chocolate box, “but you’ve heard about the Seaforths coming, haven’t you? I adore kilts, and so does Helen; don’t you, Helen?”
“Every woman does,” Helen admitted, smiling. “I suppose the child really can keep the hat, can’t she?” she added, turning to the Commandant.