“May I sit down for a few moments?” she asked, a little nervously. “Your fire is so much better than mine.”
Philippa glanced at her friend through the looking-glass before which she was brushing her hair, and made a little grimace. She felt a forewarning of what was coming.
“Of course, dear,” she replied. “Have you enjoyed your evening?”
“Very much, in a way,” was the somewhat hesitating reply. “Of course, nothing really counts until Dick comes back, but it is nice to talk with some one who knows him.”
“Agreeable conversation,” Philippa remarked didactically, “is one of the greatest pleasures in life.”
“You find Mr. Lessingham very interesting, don’t you?” Helen asked.
Philippa finished arranging her hair to her satisfaction and drew up an easy-chair opposite her visitor’s.
“So you want to talk with me about Mr. Lessingham, do you?”
“I suppose you know that he’s in love with you?” Helen began.
“I hope he is a little, my dear,” was the smiling reply. “I’m sure I’ve tried my best.”
“Won’t you talk seriously?” Helen pleaded.
“I don’t altogether see the necessity,” Philippa protested.
“I do, and I’ll tell you why,” Helen answered. “I don’t think Mr. Lessingham is at all the type of man to which you are accustomed. I think that he is in deadly earnest about you. I think that he was in deadly earnest from the first. You don’t really care for him, do you, dear?”
“Very much, and yet not, perhaps, quite in the way you are thinking of,” was the quiet reply.
“Then please send him away,” Helen begged.
“My dear, how can I?” Philippa objected. “He has done us an immense service, and he can’t disobey his orders.”
“You don’t want him to go away, then?”
Philippa was silent for several moments. “No,” she admitted, “I don’t think that I do.”
“You don’t care for Henry any more?”
“Just as much as ever,” was the somewhat bitter reply. “That’s what I resent so much. I should like Henry to believe that he had killed every spark of love in me.”
Helen moved across and sat on the arm of her friend’s chair. She felt that she was going to be very daring.
“Have you any idea at the hack of your mind, dear,” she asked “of making use of Mr. Lessingham to punish Henry?”
Philippa moved a little uneasily.
“How hatefully downright you are!” she murmured. “I don’t know.”
“Because,” Helen continued, “if you have any such idea in your mind, I think it is most unfair to Mr. Lessingham. You know perfectly well that anything else between you and him would be impossible.”