“Your dinner is served, sir,” Mills, who had made a silent entrance, announced.
Sir Henry apparently thought no more of the hat or its possible owner. He threw it upon a neighbouring table, and his face expressed a new interest in life.
“Jove, I’m ravenous!” he confessed. “You’ll excuse me, won’t you? Mills, see that these gentlemen have cigars and cigarettes—in the billiard room, I should think. You’ll find the young people there. I’ll come in and have a game of pills later.”
The two young soldiers, with Captain Griffiths, followed Sir Henry at once from the room. Lessingham, however, lingered. He stood with his hands behind him, looking at the closed door.
“Are you going to stay and talk nonsense with me, Mr. Lessingham?” Philippa asked.
“If I may,” he answered, without changing his position.
Philippa looked at him curiously.
“Do you see ghosts through that door?”
He shook his head.
“Do you know,” he said, as he seated himself by her side, “there are times when I find your husband quite interesting.”
Philippa leaned back in her place.
“Exactly what do you mean by that, Mr. Lessingham?” she demanded.
He shook himself free from a curious sense of unreality, and turned towards her.
“I must confess,” he said, “that sometimes your husband puzzles me.”
“Not nearly so much as he puzzles me,” Philippa retorted, a little bitterly.
“Has he always been so desperately interested in deep-sea fishing?”
Philippa shrugged her shoulders.
“More or less, but never quite to this extent. The thing has become an obsession with him lately. If you are really going to stay and talk with me, do you mind if we don’t discuss my husband? Just now the subject is rather a painful one with me.”
“I can quite understand that,” Lessingham murmured sympathetically.
“What do you think of Captain Griffiths?” she asked, a little abruptly.
“I have thought nothing more about him. Should I? Is he of any real importance?”
“He is military commandant here.”
Lessingham nodded thoughtfully.
“I suppose that means that he is the man who ought to be on my track,” he observed.
“I shouldn’t be in the least surprised to hear that he was,” Philippa said drily. “I have told you that he came and asked about you the other night, when he dined here. He seemed perfectly satisfied then, but he is here again to-night to see Henry, and he never visits anywhere in an ordinary way.”
“Are you uneasy about me?” Lessingham enquired.
“I am not sure,” she answered frankly. “Sometimes I am almost terrified and would give anything to hear that you were on your way home. And at other times I realise that you are really very clever, that nothing is likely to happen to you, and that the place will seem duller than ever when you do go.”