“I thought that extraordinary man would never go,” she exclaimed, “and I was longing to send for you, Helen. London has been such a dreary chapter of disappointments.”
“What a sickening time you must have had, dear!”
“It was horrid,” Philippa assented sadly, “but you know Henry is no use at all, and I should have felt miserable unless I had gone. I have been to every friend at the War Office, and every friend who has friends there. I have made every sort of enquiry, and I know just as much now as I did when I left here—that Richard was a prisoner at Wittenberg the last time they heard, and that they have received no notification whatever concerning him for the last two months.”
Helen glanced at the calendar.
“It is just two months to-day,” she said mournfully, “since we heard.”
“And then,” Philippa sighed, “he hadn’t received a single one of our parcels.”
Helen rose suddenly to her feet. She was a tall, fair girl of the best Saxon type, slim but not in the least angular, with every promise, indeed, of a fuller and more gracious development in the years to come. She was barely twenty-two years old, and, as is common with girls of her complexion, seemed younger. Her bright, intelligent face was, above all, good-humoured. Just at that moment, however, there was a flush of passionate anger in her cheeks.
“It makes me feel almost beside myself,” she exclaimed, “this hideous incapacity for doing anything! Here we are living in luxury, without a single privation, whilst Dick, the dearest thing on earth to both of us, is being starved and goaded to death in a foul German prison!”
“We mustn’t believe that it’s quite so bad as that, dear,” Philippa remonstrated. “What is it, Mills?”
The elderly man-servant who had entered with a tray in his band, bowed as he arranged it upon a side table.
“I have taken the liberty of bringing in a little fresh tea, your ladyship,” he announced, “and some hot buttered toast. Cook has sent some of the sandwiches, too, which your ladyship generally fancies.”
“It is very kind of you, Mills,” Philippa said, with rather a wan little smile. “I had some tea at South Lynn, but it was very bad. You might take my coat, please.”
She stood up, and the heavy fur coat slipped easily away from her slim, elegant little body.
“Shall I light up, your ladyship?” Mills enquired.
“You might light a lamp,” Philippa directed, “but don’t draw the blinds until lighting-up time. After the noise of London,” she went on, turning to Helen, “I always think that the faint sound of the sea is so restful.”
The man moved noiselessly about the room and returned once more to his mistress.
“We should be glad to hear, your ladyship,” he said, “if there is any news of Major Felstead?” Philippa shook her head.
“None at all, I am sorry to say, Mills! Still, we must hope for the best. I dare say that some of these camps are not so bad as we imagine.”