It was certainly a perfect day for a cruise. The sea lay blue and still as a lake, so clear that the rocks made purple shadows in its crystal depths. Under any other circumstances, Olga would have revelled in the beauty of it, but there was no enjoyment for her that day. She stood on the deck of the yacht as she steamed away from the jetty, and watched the uneven shore recede with a feeling of impotence that was not without an element of fear. For it seemed to her that she was a prisoner, looking her last upon the liberty of her youth.
The vessel was of no inconsiderable size and moved swiftly through the still water, cleaving her way like a bird through space. It was not long before they passed the jutting headland that hid the little fishing-village from view; but Olga still stood motionless at the rail, fighting down the cold dread at her heart.
She could hear Violet’s voice on the other side of the deck, gaily chattering to Hunt-Goring. The scent of their cigarettes reached her, and she clenched her hands. She was sure now that he had been supplying Violet with them secretly. She had been too deeply engrossed with her own affairs to think of this before, and bitterly did she blame herself for this absorption.
Poor Olga! It was the prelude to a life-long self-reproach.
They were heading out to sea now, running smoothly into the glaring sunshine. It poured upon her mercilessly where she stood, but she was scarcely aware of it. She gazed backward at the shore with eyes that saw not.
Suddenly a soft voice spoke at her shoulder. “What! Still sulking? Do you know you are remarkably like a boy?”
She turned with a great start, meeting the eyes she feared. “I don’t know what you mean,” she said, drawing sharply back.
He laughed his smooth, easy laugh. “I mean that you are behaving like a cub in need of chastisement. Do you seriously think I am going to put up with it—from a chit like you?”
She looked him up and down with a single flashing glance of clear scorn. “How much do you think I am going to put up with?” she said.
He leaned his arms upon the rail in an attitude of supreme complacence. “I may be the villain of the piece,” he observed, “but I have no desire to be melodramatic. I have come over here to talk to you quietly and sensibly about the future. Of course if you—”
“What have you to do with my future?” she thrust in fiercely. She would have given all she had to be calm at that moment, but calmness was beyond her. Though her fear had utterly departed, she was quivering with indignation from head to foot.
Hunt-Goring kept his face turned downwards towards the swirl of water that leaped by them. He was quite plainly prepared for the question.
“Since you ask me,” he responded coolly, “I should say—a good deal.”