He shook his head.
She threw herself into an easy-chair and picked up a magazine.
“Thank you,” she said. “Do hurry, please. I have a new cook and she asked particularly whether we were punctual people.”
“Six minutes will see me through it,” Sir Henry promised, making for the door. “Come to think of it, I missed my lunch. I think I’ll manage it in five.”
Sir Henry was in a pleasant and expansive humour that evening. The new cook was an unqualified success, and he was conscious of having dined exceedingly well. He sat in a comfortable easy-chair before a blazing wood fire, he had just lit one of his favourite brand of cigarettes, and his wife, whom he adored, was seated only a few feet away.
“Quite a remarkable change in Helen,” he observed. “She was in the depths of depression when I went away, and to-night she seems positively cheerful.”
“Helen varies a great deal,” Philippa reminded him.
“Still, to-night, I must say, I should have expected to have found her more depressed than ever,” Sir Henry went on. “She hoped so much from your trip to London, and you apparently accomplished nothing.”
“Nothing at all.”
“And you have had no letters?”
“Then Helen’s high spirits, I suppose, are only part of woman’s natural inconsistency.—Philippa, dear!”
“I am glad to be at home. I am glad to see you sitting there. I know you are nursing up something, some little thunderbolt to launch at me. Won’t you launch it and let’s get it over?”
Philippa laid down the book which she had been reading, and turned to face her husband. He made a little grimace.
“Don’t look so severe,” he begged. “You frighten me before you begin.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, “but my face probably reflects my feelings. I am hurt and grieved and disappointed in you, Henry.”
“That’s a good start, anyway,” he groaned.
“We have been married six years,” Philippa went on, “and I admit at once that I have been very happy. Then the war came. You know quite well, Henry, that especially at that time I was very, very fond of you, yet it never occurred to me for a moment but that, like every other woman, I should have to lose my husband for a time. —Stop, please,” she insisted, as he showed signs of interrupting. “I know quite well that it was through my persuasions you retired so early, but in those days there was no thought of war, and I always had it in my mind that if trouble came you would find your way back to where you belonged.”
“But, my dear child, that is all very well,” Sir Henry protested, “but it’s not so easy to get back again. You know very well that I went up to the Admiralty and offered my services, directly the war started.”