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The Zeppelin's Passenger

Chapter 4
There was a slight pause. A sob broke from Helen's throat. Even Philippa's lip quivered.
"Forgive me," he went on, "if that sounds like a threat. It was not so meant. It is the
simple truth. Let me hurry on to the future. I ask so little of you. It is my duty to live in
this spot for one month. What harm can I do? You have no great concentration of soldiers
here, no docks, no fortifications, no industry. And in return for the slight service of
allowing me to remain here unmolested, I pledge my word that Richard shall be set at
liberty and shall be here with you within two months."
Helen's face was transformed, her eyes glowed, her lips were parted with eagerness. She
turned towards Philippa, her expression, her whole attitude an epitome of eloquent
pleading.
"Philippa, you will not hesitate? You cannot?"
"I must," Philippa answered, struggling with her agitation. "I love Dick more dearly than
anything else on earth, but just now, Helen, we have to remember, before everything, that
we are English women. We have to put our human feelings behind us. We are learning
every day to make sacrifices. You, too, must learn, dear. My answer to you, Baron
Maderstrom - or Mr. Lessingham, as you choose to call yourself - is no."
"Philippa, you are mad!" Helen exclaimed passionately. "Didn't I have to realise all that
you say when I let Dick go, cheerfully, the day after we were engaged? Haven't I realised
the duty of cheerfulness and sacrifice through all these weary months? But there is a limit
to these things, Philippa, a sense of proportion which must be taken into account. It's
Dick's life which is in the balance against some intangible thing, nothing that we could
ever reproach ourselves with, nothing that could bring real harm upon any one. Oh, I love
my country, too, but I want Dick! I should feel like his murderess all my life, if I didn't
consent!"
"It occurs to me," Lessingham remarked, turning towards Philippa, "that Miss
Fairelough's point of view is one to be considered."
"Doesn't all that Miss Fairclough has said apply to me?" Philippa demanded, with a little
break in her voice. "Richard is my twin brother, he is the dearest thing in life to me. Can't
you realise, though, that what you ask of us is treason?
"It really doesn't amount to that," Lessingham assured her. "In my own heart I feel
convinced that I have come here on a fool's errand. No object that I could possibly attain
in this neighbourhood is worth the life of a man like Richard Felstead."
"Oh, he's right!" Helen exclaimed. "Think, Philippa! What is there here which the whole
world might not know? There are no secrets in Dreymarsh. We are miles away from
everywhere. For my sake, Philippa, I implore you not to be unreasonable."
 
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