form. But immediately afterwards she said: "If you've come out here to make love to me, please say so at once, so that we may have it over on the spot. You will gain nothing whatever by it."
"I'm not such a fool as to have given you such a chance to snub me. That would have been presumptuous, and what is at the bottom of my errand this evening is extreme humility. Don't therefore think you've gained the advantage of putting me in my place. You've done nothing of the sort, for I haven't come out of it—except, indeed, so far as to try a bad joke on Wilmerding. It has turned out even worse than was probable. You're clever, you're sympathetic, you're kind."
"What has Wilmerding to do with that?"
"Try and get him off. That's the sort of thing a woman can do."
"I don't in the least follow you, you know. Who is Wilmerding?"
"Surely you remember him—you've seen him at Frascati, the young American secretary—you saw him a year ago in Rome. The fellow who is always opening the door for you and finding the things you lose."
"The things I lose?"
"I mean the things women lose. He went with us the other day to Monte Cavo."
"And got himself lost with the girl? Oh yes, I recall him," said Mrs. Rushbrook.
"It was the darkest hour of his life—or rather of mine. I told him that after that the only thing he could do was to marry Veronica. And he has believed me."
"Does he believe everything you tell him?" Mrs. Rushbrook asked.
"Don't be impertinent, because I feel very wretched. He loathes Veronica."