“Well, my gloomy friend,” the newcomer demanded, “what’s wrong with you?”
Sir Henry was apparently relieved to see his visitor. He pushed a chair towards him and indicated with a gesture of invitation a box of cigars upon his desk.
“Your little Laranagas,” he observed. “Try one.”
The visitor opened the box, sniffed at its contents, and helped himself.
“Now, then, get at it, Henry,” he enjoined. “I’ve a Board in half-an-hour, and three dispatches to read before I go in. What’s your trouble?”
“Look here, Rayton,” was the firm reply, “I want to chuck this infernal hole-and-corner business. I tell you I’ve worked it threadbare at Dreymarsh and it’s getting jolly uncomfortable.”
The newcomer grinned.
“Poor chap!” he observed, watching his cigar smoke curl upwards. “You’re in a nasty mess, you know, Henry. Did I tell you that I had a letter from your wife the other day, asking me if I couldn’t find you a job?”
Sir Henry waited a little grimly, whilst his friend enjoyed the joke.
“That’s all very well,” he said, “but we are on the point of a separation, or something of the sort. I’ll admit it was all right at first to run the thing on the Q.T., but that’s pretty well busted up by now. Why, according to your own reports, they know all about me on the other side.”
“Not a doubt about it,” the other agreed. “I’m not sure that you haven’t got a spy fellow down at Dreymarsh now.”
“I’m quite sure of it,” Sir Henry replied grimly. “The brute was lunching with my wife at the Carlton to-day, and, as luck would have it, I was landed with that Russian Admiral’s wife and sister-in-law. You’re breaking up the happy home, that’s what you’re doing, Rayton!”
His lordship at any rate seemed to find the process amusing. He laughed until the tears stood in his eyes.
“I should love to have seen Philippa’s face,” he chuckled, “when she walked into the restaurant and saw you there! You’re supposed to be off on a fishing expedition, aren’t you?”
“I went out after whiting,” Sir Henry groaned, “and I’d just promised to chuck it for a time when I got the Admiral’s message.”
“Well, we’ll see to your German spy, anyway,” his visitor promised.
“Don’t be an ass!” Sir Henry exclaimed irritably. “I don’t want the fellow touched at present. Why, he’s been a sort of persona grata at my house. Hangs around there all the time when I’m away.”
“All the more reason for putting an end to his little game, I should say,” was the cheerful reply.
“And have the whole neighbourhood either laughing at my wife and Miss Fairclough, or talking scandal about them!” Sir Henry retorted.
“I forgot that,” his friend confessed ruminatively. “He’s a gentlemanly sort of fellow, from what I hear, but a rotten spy. What do you want done with him?”