The Zeppelin's Passenger HTML version

Chapter 2
The woman who paused for a moment upon the threshold of the library, looking in upon
the little company, was undeniably beautiful. She had masses of red-gold hair, a little
disordered by her long railway journey, deep-set hazel eyes, a delicate, almost porcelain-
like complexion, and a sensitive, delightfully shaped mouth. Her figure was small and
dainty, and just at that moment she had an appearance of helplessness which was almost
childlike. Nora, after a vigorous embrace, led her stepmother towards a chair.
"Come and sit by the fire, Mummy," she begged. "You look tired and cold."
Philippa exchanged a general salutation with her guests. She was still wearing her
travelling coat, and her air of fatigue was unmistakable. Griffiths, who had not taken his
eyes off her since her entrance, wheeled an easy-chair towards the hearth-rug, into which
she sank with a murmured word of thanks.
"You'll have some tea, won't you, dear?" Helen enquired.
Philippa shook her head. Her eyes met her friend's for a moment - it was only a very
brief glance, but the tragedy of some mutual sorrow seemed curiously revealed in that
unspoken question and answer. The two young subalterns prepared to take their leave.
Nora, kneeling down, stroked her stepmother's hand.
"No news at all, then?" Helen faltered.
"None," was the weary reply.
"Any amount of news here, Mummy," Nora intervened cheerfully, "and heaps of
excitement. We had a Zeppelin over Dutchman's Common last night, and she lost her
observation car. Mr. Somerfield took me up there this afternoon, and I found a German
hat. No one else got a thing, and, would you believe it, those children over there tried to
take it away from me."
Her stepmother smiled faintly.
"I expect you are keeping the hat, dear," she observed.
"I should say so!" Nora assented.
Philippa held out her hand to the two young men who had been waiting to take their
"You must come and dine one night this week, both of you," she said. "My husband will
be home by the later train this evening, and I'm sure he will be glad to have you."
"Very kind of you, Lady Cranston, we shall be delighted," Harrison declared.
"Rather!" his companion echoed.