Page:Miss Mapp.djvu/272

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Diva probably guessed it was a lie, and acted accordingly, but she had never thought of making it practically impossible to tell whether it was a lie or not. She had no more idea when she walked back along the High Street with the Contessa swinging her basket by her side, whether that lady was going to tea with Major Benjy to-day or to-morrow or when, than she knew whether the crab was going to eat the beefsteak.

“There’s his house,” she said, as they paused at the dentist’s corner, “and there’s mine next it, with the little bow-window of my garden-room looking out on to the street. I hope to welcome you there, dear Contessa, for a tiny game of bridge and some tea one of these days very soon. What day do you think? To-morrow?”

(Then she would know if the Contessa was going to tea with Major Benjy to-morrow... unfortunately the Contessa appeared to know that she would know it, too.)

“My flirt!” she said. “Perhaps I may be having tea with my flirt to-morrow.”

Better anything than that.

“I will ask him, too, to meet you,” said Miss Mapp, feeling in some awful and helpless way that she was playing her adversary’s game. “Adversary?” did she say to herself? She did. The inscrutable Contessa was “up to” that too.

“I will not amalgamate my treats,” she said. “So that is his house! What a charming house! How my heart flutters as I ring the bell!”

Miss Mapp was now quite distraught. There was the possibility that the Contessa might tell Major Benjy that it was time he married, but on the other hand she was making arrangements to go to tea with him on an unknown date, and the hero of amorous adventures in India and