The Zeppelin's Passenger
Philippa and Helen started, a few mornings later, for one of their customary walks. The
crystalline October sunshine, in which every distant tree and, seaward, each slowly
travelling steamer, seemed to gain a new clearness of outline, lay upon the deep-ploughed
fields, the yellowing bracken, and the red-gold of the bending trees, while the west wind,
which had strewn the sea with white-flecked waves, brought down the leaves to form a
carpet for their feet, and played strange music along the wood-crested slope. In the
broken land through which they made their way, a land of trees and moorland, with here
and there a cultivated patch, the yellow gorse still glowed in unexpected corners; queer,
scentless flowers made splashes of colour in the hedgerows; a rabbit scurried sometimes
across their path; a cock pheasant, after a moment's amazed stare, lowered his head and
rushed for unnecessary shelter. The longer they looked upwards, the bluer seemed the
sky. The grass beneath their feet was as green and soft as in springtime. Driven by the
wind, here and there a white-winged gull sailed over their heads,- a cloud of them rested
upon a freshly turned little square of ploughed land between two woods. A flight of
pigeons, like torn leaves tossed about by the wind, circled and drifted above them.
Philippa seated herself upon the trunk of a fallen tree and gazed contentedly about her.
"If I had a looking-glass and a few more hairpins, I should be perfectly happy," she
sighed. "I am sure my hair must look awful."
Helen glanced at it admiringly.
"I decline to say the correct thing," she declared. "I will only remind you that there will
be no one here to look at it."
"I am not so sure," Philippa replied. "These are the woods which the special constables
haunt by day and by night. They gaze up every tree trunk for a wireless installation, and
they lie behind hedges and watch for mysterious flashes."
"Are you suggesting that we may meet Mr. Lessingham?" Helen enquired, lazily. "I am
perfectly certain that he knows nothing of the equipment of the melodramatic spy. As to
Zeppelins, don't you remember he told us that he hated them and was terrified of bombs."
"My dear," Philippa remonstrated, "Mr. Lessingham does nothing crude."
"And yet, - " Helen began.
"Yet I suppose the man has something at the back of his head," Philippa interrupted.
"Sometimes I think that he has, sometimes I believe that Richard must have shown him
my picture, and he has come over here to see if I am really like it."
"He does behave rather like that," her companion admitted drily.
Phillipa turned and looked at her.
"Helen," she said severely, "don't be a cat."