“Whiting, by God!” Sir Henry exclaimed.
“Whiting!” Philippa repeated, in agonised disgust. “What does this mean, Henry?”
“It must be a shoal,” her husband explained. “It means that we’ve got to get amongst them quick. Is the Ida down on the beach, Jimmy?”
“She there all right, sir,” was the somewhat doubtful reply, “but us’ll have a rare job to get away, sir. That there nor’easter is blowing great guns again and it’s a cruel tide.”
“We’ve got to get out somehow,” Sir Henry declared. “Mills, my oilskins and flask at once. I sha’n’t change a thing, but you might bring a cardigan jacket and the whisky and soda.”
Mills withdrew, a little dazed. Philippa, whose fingers were clenched together, found her tongue at last.
“Henry!” she exclaimed furiously.
“What is it, my dear?”
“Do you mean to tell me that after your promise,” she continued, “after what you have just said, you are starting out to-night for another fishing expedition?”
“Whiting, my dear,” Sir Henry explained. “One can’t possibly miss whiting. Where the devil are my keys?—Here they are. Now then.”
He sat down before his desk, took some papers from the top drawer, rummaged about for a moment or two in another, and found what seemed to be a couple of charts in oilskin cases. All the time the wind was shaking the windows, and a storm of rain was beating against the panes.
“Help yourself to whisky and soda, Jimmy,” Sir Henry invited, as he buttoned up his coat. “You’ll need it all presently.”
“I thank you kindly, sir,” Jimmy replied. “I am thinking that we’ll both need a drink before we’re through this night.”
He helped himself to a whisky and soda on the generous principle of half and half. Philippa, who was watching her husband’s preparations indignantly, once more found words.
“Henry, you are incorrigible!” she exclaimed. “Listen to me if you please. I insist upon it.”
Sir Henry turned a little impatiently towards her. “Philippa, I really can’t stop now,” he protested. “But you must! You shall!” she cried. “You shall hear this much from me, at any rate, before you go. What I said the other day I repeat a thousandfold now.”
Sir Henry glanced at Dumble and motioned his head towards the door. The fisherman made an awkward exit.
“A thousandfold,” Philippa repeated passionately. “You hear, Henry? I do not consider myself any more your wife. If I am here when you return, it will be simply because I find it convenient. Your conduct is disgraceful and unmanly.”
“My dear girl!” he remonstrated. “I may be back in twenty-four— possibly twelve hours.”
“It is a matter of indifference to me when you return,” was the curt reply. “I have finished.”
The door was thrown open.
“Your oilskins, sir, and flask,” Mills announced, hurrying in, a little breathless. “You’ll forgive my mentioning it, sir, but it scarcely seems a fit night to leave home.”