An hour later, her cab stopped before the Wagges’ door in Frankland Street. But just as she was about to ring the bell, a voice from behind her said:
“Allow me; I have a key. What may I—Oh, it’s you!” She turned. Mr. Wagge, in professional habiliments, was standing there. “Come in; come in,” he said. “I was wondering whether perhaps we shouldn’t be seeing you after what’s transpired.”
Hanging his tall black hat, craped nearly to the crown, on a knob of the mahogany stand, he said huskily:
“I did think we’d seen the last of that,” and opened the dining-room door. “Come in, ma’am. We can put our heads together better in here.”
In that too well remembered room, the table was laid with a stained white cloth, a cruet-stand, and bottle of Worcestershire sauce. The little blue bowl was gone, so that nothing now marred the harmony of red and green. Gyp said quickly:
“Doesn’t Daph—Daisy live at home, then, now?”
The expression on Mr. Wagge’s face was singular; suspicion, relief, and a sort of craftiness were blended with that furtive admiration which Gyp seemed always to excite in him.
“Do I understand that you—er—”
“I came to ask if Daisy would do something for me.”
Mr. Wagge blew his nose.
“You didn’t know—” he began again.
“Yes; I dare say she sees my husband, if that’s what you mean; and I don’t mind—he’s nothing to me now.”
Mr. Wagge’s face became further complicated by the sensations of a husband.
“Well,” he said, “it’s not to be wondered at, perhaps, in the circumstances. I’m sure I always thought—”
Gyp interrupted swiftly.
“Please, Mr. Wagge—please! Will you give me Daisy’s address?”
Mr. Wagge remained a moment in deep thought; then he said, in a gruff, jerky voice:
“Seventy-three Comrade Street, So’o. Up to seeing him there on Tuesday, I must say I cherished every hope. Now I’m sorry I didn’t strike him—he was too quick for me—” He had raised one of his gloved hands and was sawing it up and down. The sight of that black object cleaving the air nearly made Gyp scream, her nerves were so on edge. “It’s her blasted independence—I beg pardon—but who wouldn’t?” he ended suddenly.
Gyp passed him.
“Who wouldn’t?” she heard his voice behind her. “I did think she’d have run straight this time—” And while she was fumbling at the outer door, his red, pudgy face, with its round grey beard, protruded almost over her shoulder. “If you’re going to see her, I hope you’ll—”
Gyp was gone. In her cab she shivered. Once she had lunched with her father at a restaurant in the Strand. It had been full of Mr. Wagges. But, suddenly, she thought: ‘It’s hard on him, poor man!’
Seventy-three Comrade Street, Soho, was difficult to find; but, with the aid of a milk-boy, Gyp discovered the alley at last, and the right door. There her pride took sudden alarm, and but for the milk-boy’s eyes fixed on her while he let out his professional howl, she might have fled. A plump white hand and wrist emerging took the can, and Daphne Wing’s voice said: