"I say, you needn't knock," he said. "Have you made the tour of the mansion?"
"It's the smallest kitchen I've ever seen."
"You'll find it large enough to cook our sumptuous repasts," he retorted lightly.
"I see there's nothing in. I'd better go out and get something."
"Yes, but I venture to remind you that we must be devilish economical."
"What shall I get for supper?"
"You'd better get what you think you can cook," laughed Philip.
He gave her some money and she went out. She came in half an hour later and put her purchases on the table. She was out of breath from climbing the stairs.
"I say, you are anaemic," said Philip. "I'll have to dose you with Blaud's Pills."
"It took me some time to find the shops. I bought some liver. That's tasty, isn't it? And you can't eat much of it, so it's more economical than butcher's meat."
There was a gas stove in the kitchen, and when she had put the liver on, Mildred came into the sitting- room to lay the cloth.
"Why are you only laying one place?" asked Philip. "Aren't you going to eat anything?"
"I thought you mightn't like me to have my meals with you."
"Why on earth not?"
"Well, I'm only a servant, aren't I?"
"Don't be an ass. How can you be so silly?"
He smiled, but her humility gave him a curious twist in his heart. Poor thing! He remembered what she had been when first he knew her. He hesitated for an instant.
"Don't think I'm conferring any benefit on you," he said. "It's simply a business arrangement, I'm giving you board and lodging in return for your work. You don't owe me anything. And there's nothing humiliating to you in it."
She did not answer, but tears rolled heavily down her cheeks. Philip knew from his experience at the hospital that women of her class looked upon service as degrading: he could not help feeling a little impatient with her; but he blamed himself, for it was clear that she was tired and ill. He got up and helped her to lay another place at the table. The baby was awake now, and Mildred had prepared some Mellin's Food for it. The liver and bacon were ready and they sat down. For economy's sake Philip had given up drinking anything but water, but he had in the house a half a bottle of whiskey, and he thought a little would do Mildred good. He did his best to make the supper pass cheerfully, but Mildred was subdued and exhausted. When they had finished she got up to put the baby to bed.
"I think you'll do well to turn in early yourself," said Philip. "You look absolute done up."
"I think I will after I've washed up."
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