“Philippa dear,” she said, “if I thought that all the tears that were ever shed, all the words that were ever dragged from one’s heart, could have any real effect, I’d go on my knees to you now and implore you to give up this idea. But I think—you won’t be angry with me, dear?—I think you would go just the same.”
“You seem to think that I am obstinate,” Philippa complained.
“You see, you are temperamental, dear,” Helen reminded her. “You have a complex nature. I know very well that you need the daily love that Henry doesn’t seem to have been willing to give you lately, and I couldn’t stop your turning towards the sun, you know. Only—all the time there’s that terrible anxiety—are you quite sure it is the sun?”
“You believe in Mr. Lessingham, don’t you?” Philippa asked.
“I do indeed,” Helen replied. “I am not quite sure, though, that I believe in you.”
Philippa was a little startled.
“Well, I never!” she exclaimed. “Exactly what do you mean by that, Helen?”
“I am not quite sure,” Helen continued, “that when the moment has really come, and your head is upturned and your arms outstretched, and your feet have left this world in which you are now, I am not quite sure that you will find all that you seek.”
“You think he doesn’t love me?”
“I am not convinced,” Helen replied calmly, “that you love him.”
“Why, you idiot,” Philippa declared feverishly, “of course I love him! I think he is one of the sweetest, most lovable persons I ever knew, and as to his being a Swede, I shouldn’t care whether he were a Fiji Islander or a Chinese.”
Helen nodded sympathetically.
“I agree with you,” she said, “but listen. You know that I haven’t uttered a single word to dissuade you. Well, then, grant me just one thing. Before you start off this evening, tell Mr. Lessingham the truth, whatever it may be, the truth which you haven’t told me. It very likely won’t make any difference. Two people as nice as you and he, who are going to join their lives, generally do, I believe, find the things they seek. Still, tell him.”
Philippa made no reply. Richard opened the door and lingered upon the threshold. Helen rose to her feet.
“I am coming, Dick,” she called out cheerfully. “There’s a gorgeous fire in the gun room, and two big easy-chairs, and we’ll have just the time I have been looking forward to all day. You’ll tell me things, won’t you?”
She looked very sweet as she came towards him, her eyes raised to him, her face full of the one happiness. He passed his arm around her waist.
“I’ll try, dear,” he said. “You won’t be lonely, Philippa?”
“I’ll come and disturb you when I am,” she promised.
The door closed. She stood gazing down into the fire, listening to their footsteps as they crossed the hall.