“I would sacrifice everything that I have ever held dear in life,” he declared, with his face aglow, “for its realization.”
“But you would be a deserter from your country,” she pointed out. “You would never be able to return. Your estates would be confiscated. You would be homeless.”
“Home,” he said softly, “is where one’s heart takes one. Home is just where love is.”
Her eyes, as they met his, were for a moment suspiciously soft. Then she began to talk very quickly of other things, to compare notes of countries which they had both visited, even of people whom they had met. They were obliged to leave early to catch their train. As they passed down the crowded restaurant they once more found themselves within a few feet of Sir Henry. His back was turned to them, and he was apparently ignorant of their near presence. The party had become a partie Carríe, another man, and a still younger and more beautiful woman having joined it.
“Of course,” Philippa said, as they descended the stairs, “I am behaving like an idiot. I ought to go and tell Henry exactly what I think of him, or pull him away in the approved Whitechapel fashion. We lose so much, don’t we, by stifling our instincts.”
“For the next few minutes,” he replied, glancing at his watch, “I think we had better concentrate our attention upon catching our train.”
They reached King’s Cross with only a few minutes to spare. Grover, however, had already secured a carriage, and Helen was waiting for them, ensconced in a corner. She accepted the news of Lessingham’s return with resignation. Philippa became thoughtful as they drew towards the close of their journey and the slow, frosty twilight began to creep down upon the land.
“I suppose we don’t really know what war is,” she observed, looking out of the window at a comfortable little village tucked away with a background of trees and guarded by a weather-beaten old church. “The people are safe in their homes. You must appreciate what that means, Mr. Lessingham.”
“Indeed I do,” he answered gravely. “I have seen the earth torn and dismembered as though by the plough of some destroying angel. A few blackened ruins where, an hour or so before, a peaceful village stood; men and women running about like lunatics stricken with a mortal fear. And all the time a red glow on the horizon, a blood-red glow, and little specks of grey or brown lying all over the fields; even the cattle racing round in terror. And every now and then the cry of Death! You are fortunate in England.”
Philippa leaned forward.
“Do you believe that our turn will come?” she asked. “Do you believe that the wave will break over our country?”
“Who can tell?”
“Ah, no, but answer me,” she begged. “Is it possible for you to land an army here?”