The Night Watch
She said, 'I think that's- Yes, it is. How funny!' She raised the hand higher, and waved. ' Ursula! ' she called-so loudly, the word jarred against Helen's ear. 'Over here!'
    Helen propped herself up and peered in the direction in which Julia was waving. She saw a slim, smart-looking woman making her way across the grass towards them, beginning to laugh.
    'Good Lord,' the woman said, as she drew closer. 'Fancy seeing you, Julia!'
    Julia had got to her feet and was brushing down her linen dress. She was laughing too. She said, 'Where are you off to?'
    'I've been lunching with a friend,' said the woman, 'up at St John's Wood. I'm on my way to Broadcasting House. We don't have time for picnics and so on, at the BBC. What a charming spread you've made here, though! Perfectly bucolic!'
    She looked at Helen. Her eyes were dark, slightly mischievous.
    Julia turned, made introductions. 'This is Ursula Waring, Helen. Ursula, this is Helen Giniver-'
    'Helen, of course!' said Ursula. 'Now, you won't mind my calling you Helen? I've heard such a lot about you.-No need to look nervous! It was all of it good.'
    She leaned to shake Helen's hand, and Helen half rose, to meet it. She felt at a disadvantage, sitting down while Julia and Ursula were standing up; but she was very conscious, too, of her Saturday-morning appearance-of her blouse, which she'd once unpicked and refashioned in an attempt at 'make-do and mend', and her old tweed skirt, rather seated at the back. Ursula, by contrast, looked neat, moneyed, tailored. Her hair was put up in a chic, rather masculine little hat. Her leather gloves were soft and unscuffed, and her low-heeled shoes had flat fringed tongues to them-the kind of shoes you expected to see on a golf-course, or a Scottish highland, somewhere expensively hearty like that. She was not at all as Helen had pictured her, from the things that Julia had said about her over the past few weeks. Julia had made her sound older and almost dowdy. Why would Julia have done that?
    'You caught the broadcast last night?' Ursula was saying.
    'Of course,' said Julia.
    'Rather good, wasn't it? Did you think so, Helen? I think we did awfully well… And wasn't it tremendous, seeing Julia's face in the middle of the Radio Times !'
    'Oh, it was rotten,' said Julia, before Helen could answer. 'That picture's so frightfully Catholic! I look like I'm about to be bound to a wheel, or have my eyes put out!'
    'Nonsense!'
    They laughed together. Then Julia said, 'But, look here, Ursula. Why don't you join us?'
    Ursula shook her head. 'I know if I sit, I simply shan't want to get up… I shall be sick with envy, though, thinking about you all day. It's just too disgustingly clever of you both. But of course, you live so very near. And such a charming house, too!' She spoke to Helen again. 'I said to Julia, one would never know such a place existed, so close to the Edgware Road.'
    'You've seen it?' asked Helen in surprise.
    'Oh, just for a moment-'
    Julia said, 'Ursula called round, one day last week. Surely I told you, Helen?'
    'I must have forgotten.'
    'I wanted to take a peek,' said Ursula, 'at Julia's study. It's always so fascinating, I think, seeing where writers do their work. Though I'm not sure whether I really envy you, Helen. I don't know how I'd feel, having my friend scribbling away over my head, working out the best way to despatch her next victim-by poison, or the rope!'
    She said the word 'friend', Helen thought, in a special sort of way-as if to say: We understand one another, of course . As if to say, in fact: We're all 'friends' together . She had taken off her gloves, to bring out a silver cigarette-case from her pocket; and as she opened the case up Helen saw her short manicured nails, and the discreet little signet ring on the smallest finger of her left hand…
    She held the cigarettes out. Helen shook her head. Julia, however, moved forward, and she and Ursula spent a moment fussing with a lighter-for a breeze had risen and

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