He wrote a few sentences on a sheet of paper, which he folded up and passed across the table.
“Don’t open it now,” he said. “Think it over and don’t mind putting suggestions up to me if anything occurs to you. Call here to see me every morning at ten o’clock. I have a suite in the Court, number eighty-nine. You’ve done with business—you understand?”
“Sure!” Slate answered. “Let’s talk about that last game you and I were in against Princeton.”
Josephine received her altogether unexpected visitor that afternoon with a certain amount of trepidation, mingled with considerable distaste. Mr. Peter Phipps’ manner, however, went far towards disarming resentment. He was suave, restrained and exceedingly apologetic.
“If I have taken a liberty in coming to see you, Lady Dredlinton, without a direct invitation, I am going to apologise right away,” he said. “I don’t get much of an opportunity of a chat with you while the others are all around, and I felt this afternoon like taking my chance of finding you at home.”
“I am always glad to see my husband’s friends,” Josephine replied a little stiffly. “As a matter of fact, however, I was surprised to see you because I left word that I was at home to only one caller.”
“Fortunate person!” Mr. Phipps declared with a sigh. “May I sit down?”
“Certainly,” was the somewhat cold assent. “If you really have anything to say to me, perhaps you had better let me know what it is at once.”
Peter Phipps was a man whose life had been spent in facing and overcoming difficulties, but as he took the chair to which Josephine had somewhat ungraciously pointed, he was compelled to admit to himself that he was confronted with a task which might well tax his astuteness to the utmost. To begin with he made use of one of his favourite weapons,—silence. He sat quite still, studying the situation, and in those few moments Josephine found herself studying him. He was tall, over six feet, with burly shoulders, a thickset body, and legs rather short for his height. He was clean-shaven, his hair was a sandy grey, his complexion florid, his eyes blue and piercing. His upper lip was long, and his mouth, when closed, rather resembled some sort of a trap. He was dressed with care, almost with distinction. But for his pronounced American accent, he would probably have been taken for a Scandinavian.
“Did you come here to improve your acquaintance with the interior of my sitting room?” Josephine asked, a little irritated at last by his silence.
He shook his head.
“I should say not. I came, Lady Dredlinton, to talk to you about your husband.”
“Then if you will allow me to say so,” Josephine replied, “you have come upon a very purposeless errand. I do not discuss my husband with any one, for reasons which I think we need not go into.”