“Baron Maderstrom was a Swedish nobleman,” Captain Griffiths observed.
“Swedish or German, I know nothing of him,” Philippa persisted.
“There remains, then, nothing more to be said.”
“I am afraid not,” Philippa agreed sweetly.
“Under the circumstances,” Captain Griffiths asked, “you will not, I am sure, expect me to dine to-night.”
“Not if you object to meeting Mr. Hamar Lessingham,” Philippa replied.
Her visitor’s face suddenly darkened, and Philippa wondered vaguely whether anything more than professional suspicion was responsible for that little storm of passion which for a moment transformed his appearance. He quickly recovered, however.
“I may still,” he concluded, moving towards the door, “be forced to present myself here in another capacity.”
The confinement of the house, after the departure of her unwelcome visitor, stifled Philippa. Attired in a mackintosh, with a scarf around her head, she made her way on to the quay, and, clinging to the railing, dragged herself along to where the fishermen were gathered together in a little group. The storm as yet showed no signs of abatement.
“Has anything been heard of Ben Oates’ boat?” she enquired.
An old fisherman pointed seawards.
“There she comes, ma’am, up on the crest of that wave; look!”
“Will she get in?” Philippa asked eagerly.
There were varied opinions, expressed in indistinct mutterings.
“She’s weathering it grand,” the fisherman to whom she had first spoken, declared. “We’ve a line ready yonder, and we’re reckoning on getting ’em ashore all right. Lucky for Ben that the gentleman along with him is a fine sailor. Look at that, mum!” he added in excitement. “See the way he brought her head round to it, just in time. Boys, they’ll come in on the next one!”
One by one the sailors made their way to the very edge of the wave-splashed beach. There were a few more minutes of breathless anxiety. Then, after the boat had disappeared completely from sight, hidden by a huge grey wall of sea, she seemed suddenly to climb to the top of it, to hover there, to become mixed up with the spray and the surf and a great green mass of waters, and then finally, with a harsh crash of timbers and a shout from the fishermen, to be flung high and dry upon the stones. Philippa, clutching the iron railing, saw for a moment nothing but chaos. Her knees became weak. She was unable to move. There was a queer dizziness in her ears. The sound of voices sounded like part of an unreal nightmare. Then she was aware of a single figure climbing the steps towards her. There was blood trickling down his face from the wound in the forehead, and he was limping slightly.
“Mr. Lessingham!” she called out, as he reached the topmost step.