“Precisely! Isn’t it a coward’s part to terrorise a woman?”
“I don’t want to terrorise you,” he said sulkily.
“Well, you must admit that you haven’t shown any particular desire to make yourself agreeable,” she pointed out.
He turned suddenly upon her.
“I am a fool, I know,” he declared bitterly. “I’m an awkward, nervous, miserable fool, my own worst enemy as they say of me in the Mess, turning the people against me I want to have like me, stumbling into every blunder a fool can. I’m the sort of man women make sport of, and you’ve done it for them cruelly, perfectly.”
“Captain Griffiths!” she protested. “When have I ever been anything but kind and courteous to you?”
“It isn’t your kindness I want, nor your courtesy! There’s a curse upon my tongue,” he went on desperately. “I’m not like other men. I don’t know how to say what I feel. I can’t put it into words. Every one misunderstands me. You, too! Here I rode up to you this afternoon and my heart was beating for joy, and in five minutes I had made an enemy of you. Damn that fellow Lessingham! It is all his fault!”
Without the slightest warning he brought down his hunting crop upon his horse’s flanks. The mare gave one great plunge, and he was off, riding at a furious gallop. Philippa watched him with immense relief, In the far distance she could see two little specks growing larger and larger. She hurried on towards them.
“Whatever did you do to Captain Griffiths, Mummy?” Nora demanded. “Why he passed us without looking down, galloping like a madman, and his face looked—well, what did it look like, Helen?”
Helen was gazing uneasily along the sands.
“Like a man riding for his enemy,” she declared.
Philippa and Helen looked at one another a little dolefully across the luncheon table.
“I supposes one misses the child,” Helen said.
“I feel too depressed for words,” Philippa admitted.
“A few days ago,” Helen reminded her companion, “we were getting all the excitement that was good for any one.”
“And a little more,” Philippa agreed. “I don’t know why things seem so flat now. We really ought to be glad that nothing terrible has happened.”
“What with Henry and Mr. Lessingham both away,” Helen continued, “and Captain Griffiths not coming near the place, we really have reverted to the normal, haven’t we? I wonder—if Mr. Lessingham has gone back.”
“I do not think so,” Philippa murmured.
Helen frowned slightly.
“Personally,” she said, with some emphasis, “I hope that he has.”
“If we are considering the personal point of view only,” Philippa retorted, “I hope that he has not.”
Helen looked her disapproval.
“I should have thought that you had had enough playing with fire,” she observed.