Presently Griffiths said:
"I say, it's dreadfully difficult for me to call you Mrs. Miller. Philip never calls you anything but Mildred."
"I daresay she won't scratch your eyes out if you call her that too," laughed Philip.
"Then she must call me Harry."
Philip sat silent while they chattered away and thought how good it was to see people happy. Now and then Griffiths teased him a little, kindly, because he was always so serious.
"I believe he's quite fond of you, Philip," smiled Mildred.
"He isn't a bad old thing," answered Griffiths, and taking Philip's hand he shook it gaily.
It seemed an added charm in Griffiths that he liked Philip. They were all sober people, and the wine they had drunk went to their heads. Griffiths became more talkative and so boisterous that Philip, amused, had to beg him to be quiet. He had a gift for story-telling, and his adventures lost nothing of their romance and their laughter in his narration. He played in all of them a gallant, humorous part. Mildred, her eyes shining with excitement, urged him on. He poured out anecdote after anecdote. When the lights began to be turned out she was astonished.
"My word, the evening has gone quickly. I thought it wasn't more than half past nine."
They got up to go and when she said good-bye, she added:
"I'm coming to have tea at Philip's room tomorrow. You might look in if you can."
"All right," he smiled.
On the way back to Pimlico Mildred talked of nothing but Griffiths. She was taken with his good looks, his well-cut clothes, his voice, his gaiety.
"I am glad you like him," said Philip. "D'you remember you were rather sniffy about meeting him?"
"I think it's so nice of him to be so fond of you, Philip. He is a nice friend for you to have."
She put up her face to Philip for him to kiss her. It was a thing she did rarely.
"I have enjoyed myself this evening, Philip. Thank you so much."
"Don't be so absurd," he laughed, touched by her appreciation so that he felt the moisture come to his eyes.
She opened her door and just before she went in, turned again to Philip.
"Tell Harry I'm madly in love with him," she said.
"All right," he laughed. "Good-night."
Next day, when they were having tea, Griffiths came in. He sank lazily into an arm-chair. There was something strangely sensual in the slow movements of his large limbs. Philip remained silent, while the others chattered away, but he was enjoying himself. He admired them both so much that it seemed natural enough for them to admire one another. He did not care if Griffiths absorbed Mildred's attention, he would have her to himself during the evening: he had something of the attitude of a loving husband, confident in his wife's affection, who looks on with amusement while she flirts harmlessly with a stranger. But at half past seven he looked at his watch and said:
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