“Quite right,” Sir Henry agreed. “You are not going to bed, dear?”
Philippa had folded up her work. She stood for a moment upon the hearth-rug. The little hardness which had tightened her mouth had disappeared, her eyes had softened.
“May I say just one word more,” she begged, “about our previous—our only serious subject of conversation? I have tried my best since we were married, Henry, to make you happy.”
“You know quite well,” he assured her, “that you have succeeded.”
“Grant me one favour, then,” she pleaded. “Give up your fishing expedition to-morrow, go back to London by the first train and let me write to Lord Rayton. I am sure he would do something for you.”
“Of course he’d do something!” Her husband groaned. “I should get a censorship in Ireland, or a post as instructor at Portsmouth.”
“Wouldn’t you rather take either of those than nothing?” she asked, “than go on living the life you are living now?”
“To be perfectly frank with you, Philippa, I wouldn’t,” he declared bluntly. “What on earth use should I be in a land appointment? Why, no one could read my writing, and my nautical science is entirely out of date. Why a cadet at Osborne could floor me in no time.”
“You refuse to let me write, then?” she persisted.
“You intend to go on that fishing expedition with Jimmy Dumble to-morrow?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for anything,” he confessed.
Philippa was suddenly white with anger.
“Henry, I’ve finished,” she declared, holding out her hand to keep him away from her. “I’ve finished with you entirely. I would rather be married to an enemy who was fighting honourably for his country than to you. What I have said, I mean. Don’t come near me. Don’t try to touch me.”
She swept past him on her way to the door.
“Not even a good-night kiss?” he asked, stooping down.
She looked him in the eyes.
“I am not a child,” she said scornfully.
He closed the door after her. For a moment he remained as though undecided whether to follow or not. His face had softened with her absence. Finally, however, he turned away with a little shrug of the shoulders, threw himself into his easy-chair and began to smoke furiously.
The telephone bell disturbed his reflection. He rose at once and took up the receiver.
“Yes, this is 19, Dreymarsh. Trunk call? All right, I am here.”
He waited until another voice came to him faintly.
“That’s right. The message is Odino Berry, you understand? O-d-i-n-o b-e-r-r-y.”
“I’ve got it,” Sir Henry replied. “Good night!” He hung up the receiver, crossed the room to his desk, unlocked one of the drawers, and produced a black memorandum book, secured with a brass lock. He drew a key from his watch chain, opened the book, and ran his fingers down the O’s.