“Your wife’s friendship with this fellow Wingate has got to be nipped in the bud,” Phipps declared.
“Yes, but how?” Dredlinton demanded. “Josephine and I aren’t anything to one another any more—you know that. She goes her own way.”
“She lives in your house,” Phipps said. “You remain her husband nominally and you have therefore a certain amount of authority. You must forbid her to receive Wingate.”
“I’ll forbid her, all right,” Dredlinton assented, “but I won’t guarantee that she’ll obey.”
“Then you must give orders to the servants,” Phipps insisted. “I don’t need to suggest to you, Dredlinton,” he went on, “what means you should use to make your wife obey you, but there are means, and if you’re not the man to realise them, I’m very much surprised in you. I will begin with a concrete case. Your wife, together with that fellow Wilshaw and Miss Baldwin, have accepted an invitation from Wingate to dine and go to a theatre to-morrow night. You must see that your wife does not go.”
“Very well,” Dredlinton promised, “I’ll manage it somehow.”
“See that you do,” Phipps enjoined earnestly. “Your wife is one of those misguided women with a strong sense of duty. Unless you behave like a damn fool, you can reestablish some measure of control over her. Do so. There are certain circumstances,” he went on, his face wrinkled a little with emotion, his voice deep and earnest, “there are certain circumstances, Dredlinton, under which I might be inclined to behave towards you with great generosity. I leave you to guess what those circumstances are. I will show you the way later on.”
Dredlinton felt hope stir once more through his shocked and terrified senses. He lit a cigarette with fingers which had ceased to tremble, leaned a little back in his place and stared at his companion curiously.
“Phipps,” he asked, “what the devil do you and this fellow Wingate see in my wife?”
“What a man like you would never look for,” was the harsh reply.
“Throw your coat down anywhere, Miss Baldwin,” Wingate invited, as he ushered that young lady into his rooms soon after eleven o’clock on the following evening. “Now what can I give you? There are some sandwiches here—ham and pate-de-foie-gras, I think. Whisky and soda or some hock?”
“A pate sandwich and some plain soda water, please,” Sarah replied, taking off the long motoring coat which concealed her evening clothes. “I have been fined for everything except disorderly driving—daren’t risk that. Thanks!” she went on. “What ripping sandwiches! And quite a good play, wasn’t it?”
“I am glad you enjoyed it.”
“It was a swindle Josephine not turning up,” Sarah continued, as she stretched herself out in Wingate’s easy-chair. “Domestic ructions again, I suppose. How I do hate that husband of hers!”