He took an eager step towards her.
“Philippa!” he exclaimed. “Why, what are you doing here?”
“I was frightened,” she faltered. “Are you hurt?”
“Not in the least,” he assured her. “We had a rough sail home, that’s all, and that fellow Oates drank himself half unconscious. Come along, let me help you up the steps and out of this.”
She clung to his arm, and they struggled up the private path to the house. Mills let them in with many expressions of concern, and Helen came hurrying to them from the background.
“I went out to see the storm,” Philippa explained weakly, “and I saw Mr. Lessingham’s boat brought in.”
“And Mr. Lessingham will come this way at once,” Helen insisted. “I haven’t had a real case since I got my certificate, and I’m going to bind his head up.”
Philippa began to feel her strength returning. The horror which lay behind those few minutes of nightmare rose up again in her mind. Mills had hurried on into the bathroom, and the other two were preparing to follow. She stopped them.
“Mr. Lessingham,” she said, “listen. Captain Griffiths has been here. He knows or guesses everything.”
“Helen must bind your head up, of course,” she continued. “After that, think! What can we do? Captain Griffiths knows that there was no Hamar Lessingham at college with Dick, that he never visited Wood Norton, that there is some mystery about your arrival here, and he told me to my face that he believes you to be Bertram Maderstrom.”
“What a meddlesome fellow!” Lessingham grumbled, holding his handkerchief to his forehead.
“Oh, please be serious!” Helen begged, looking up from the bandage which she was preparing. “This is horrible!”
“Don’t I know it!” Philippa groaned. “Mr. Lessingham, you must please try and escape from here. You can have the car, if you like. There must be some place where you can go and hide until you can get away from the country.”
“But I’m dining here to-night,” Lessingham protested. “I’m not going to hide anywhere.”
The two women exchanged glances of despair.
“Can’t I make you understand!” Philippa exclaimed pathetically. “You’re in danger here—really in danger!”
Lessingham’s demeanour showed no appreciation of the situation.
“Of course, I can quite understand,” he said, “that Griffiths is suspicious about me, but, after all, no one can prove that I have broken the law here, and I shall not make things any better by attempting an opera bouffe flight. Can I have my head tied up and come and talk to you about it later on?”
“Oh, if you like,” Philippa assented weakly. “I can’t argue.”
She made her way up to her room and changed her wet clothes. When she came down, Lessingham was standing on the hearth rug in the library, with a piece of buttered toast in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. His head was very neatly bound up, and he seemed quite at his ease.