“Is the baby all right?” he asked.
“I’ll just go in and see.”
When she came back it was to say that it had not stirred since she left it. It was a wonderful child. Philip held out his hand.
“D’you want to go to bed already?”
“It’s nearly one. I’m not used to late hours these days,” said Philip.
She took his hand and holding it looked into his eyes with a little smile.
“Phil, the other night in that room, when you asked me to come and stay here, I didn’t mean what you thought I meant, when you said you didn’t want me to be anything to you except just to cook and that sort of thing.”
“Didn’t you?” answered Philip, withdrawing his hand. “I did.”
“Don’t be such an old silly,” she laughed.
He shook his head.
“I meant it quite seriously. I shouldn’t have asked you to stay here on any other condition.”
“I feel I couldn’t. I can’t explain it, but it would spoil it all.”
She shrugged her shoulders.
“Oh, very well, it’s just as you choose. I’m not one to go down on my hands and knees for that, and chance it.”
She went out, slamming the door behind her.
Next morning Mildred was sulky and taciturn. She remained in her room till it was time to get the dinner ready. She was a bad cook and could do little more than chops and steaks; and she did not know how to use up odds and ends, so that Philip was obliged to spend more money than he had expected. When she served up she sat down opposite Philip, but would eat nothing; he remarked on it; she said she had a bad headache and was not hungry. He was glad that he had somewhere to spend the rest of the day; the Athelnys were cheerful and friendly. It was a delightful and an unexpected thing to realise that everyone in that household looked forward with pleasure to his visit. Mildred had gone to bed when he came back, but next day she was still silent. At supper she sat with a haughty expression on her face and a little frown between her eyes. It made Philip impatient, but he told himself that he must be considerate to her; he was bound to make allowance.
“You’re very silent,” he said, with a pleasant smile.
“I’m paid to cook and clean, I didn’t know I was expected to talk as well.”
He thought it an ungracious answer, but if they were going to live together he must do all he could to make things go easily.
“I’m afraid you’re cross with me about the other night,” he said.
It was an awkward thing to speak about, but apparently it was necessary to discuss it.
“I don’t know what you mean,” she answered.
“Please don’t be angry with me. I should never have asked you to come and live here if I’d not meant our relations to be merely friendly. I suggested it because I thought you wanted a home and you would have a chance of looking about for something to do.”