Sir Henry paused for a moment, watching her disappearing figure. There was an unusual shade of trouble in his face. His love for and confidence in his wife had been so absolute that even her threats had seemed to him like little morsels of wounded vanity thrown to him out of the froth of her temper. Yet at that moment a darker thought crossed his mind. Lessingham, he realised, was not a rival, after all, to be despised. He was a man of courage and tact, even though Sir Henry, in his own mind, had labelled him as a fool. If indeed he were coming back to Dreymarsh, what could it be for? How much had Philippa known about him? He stood there for a few moments in indecision. A great impulse had come to him to break his pledge, to tell her the truth. Then he made his disturbed way into the breakfast room.
“Where’s your mother, Nora?” he asked, as Helen took Philippa’s place at the head of the table.
“She wants some coffee and toast sent up to her room.” Nora explained. “The wind made her giddy.”
Sir Henry breakfasted in silence, rang the bell, and ordered his car.
“You going away again, Daddy?” Nora asked.
“I am going to London this morning,” he replied, a little absently.
“To London?” Helen repeated. “Does Philippa know?”
“I haven’t told her yet.”
Helen turned towards Nora.
“I wish you’d run up and see if your mother wants any more coffee, there’s a dear,” she suggested.
Nora acquiesced at once. As soon as she had left the room, Helen leaned over and laid her hand upon Sir Henry’s arm.
“Don’t go to London, Henry,” she begged.
“But my dear Helen, I must,” he replied, a little curtly.
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” she persisted. “You know, you’ve tried Philippa very high lately, and she is in an extremely emotional state. She is all worked up about last night, and I wouldn’t leave her alone if I were you.”
Sir Henry’s blue eyes seemed suddenly like points of steel as he leaned towards her.
“You think that she is in love with that fellow Lessingham?” he asked bluntly.
“No, I don’t,” Helen replied, “but I think she is more furious with you than you believe. For months you have acted—well, how shall I say?”
“Oh, like a coward, if you like, or a fool. Go on.”
“She has asked for explanations to which she is perfectly entitled,” Helen continued, “and you have given her none. You have treated her like something between a doll and a child. Philippa is as good and sweet as any woman who ever lived, but hasn’t it ever occurred to you that women are rather mysterious beings? They may sometimes do, out of a furious sense of being wrongly treated, out of a sort of aggravated pique, what they would never do for any other reason. If you must go, come back to-night, Henry. Come back, and if you are obstinate, and won’t tell Philippa all that she has a right to know, tell her about that luncheon in town.”