Diva had remembered just after her sharp speech to her partner that Mr. Wyse was present, and looked towards the sofa to see if there were any indications of pained surprise on his face which might indicate that he had heard. But what she saw there—or, to be more accurate, what she failed to see there—forced her to give an exclamation which caused Miss Mapp to look round in the direction where Diva’s bulging eyes were glued.... There was no doubt whatever about it: Mrs. Poppit and Mr. Wyse were no longer there. Unless they were under the sofa they had certainly left the room together and altogether. Had she gone to put on her sable coat on this hot night? Was Mr. Wyse staggering under its weight as he fitted her into it? Miss Mapp rejected the supposition; they had gone to another room to converse more privately. This looked very black indeed, and she noted the time on the clock in order to ascertain, when they came back, how long they had been absent.
The rubber went on its wild way, relieved from the restraining influence of Mr. Wyse, and when, thirty-nine minutes afterwards, it came to its conclusion and neither the hostess nor Mr. Wyse had returned, Miss Mapp was content to let Diva muddle herself madly, adding up the score with the assistance of her fingers, and went across to the other table till she should be called back to check her partner’s figures. They would be certain to need checking.
“Has Mr. Wyse gone away already, dear Isabel?” she said. “How early!”
(“And four makes nine,” muttered Diva, getting to her little finger.)
Isabel was dummy, and had time for conversation.
“I think he has only gone with Mamma into the