“Of course I will help you, darling,” Olga promised soothingly.
“Yes. But it won’t be easy,” said Violet, frowning upwards. “I’ve got to go into a great space of lost souls, and I shan’t find it very easily. It was his fault. He never ought to have brought me back that night. That’s the worst of doctors. They are so keen about the body, but they don’t study the soul at all. They behave exactly as if the soul weren’t there.”
“Look here, dear,” said Olga, with sudden inspiration, “wouldn’t you like to talk to Nick about it? He’s so clever. I always ask him about puzzling things.”
“Nick?” Violet’s eyes came round to her. “He’s a soldier, isn’t he? He has killed people.”
“I don’t know. I suppose so,” said Olga. “He is just outside. May I fetch him?”
“Oh, yes, I don’t mind Nick. He’s got some sense. But I won’t have Max, Allegro. He is not to come near me. I’ve found him out, and I hate him!” The deep voice suddenly grew deeper. A flame of fierce resentment leaped up in the roving eyes. “I know now exactly why he has been so attentive all this time. I thought—I used to think—he was in love with me—like other men. But I know now that he was only making a study of me, because he knew that I was going mad. Bruce must have told him that. I’ve often wondered why he and Bruce were so friendly. I know now that they were in league against me. Bruce never liked me—naturally. No one ever liked me but you, Allegro.”
“Shall I call Nick?” said Olga, gently bringing her back to the point.
“Oh, if you like. But no! Cork would never let any man come in here. I will come downstairs. We’ll have some lunch, and then smoke.” Violet sprang from the bed with sudden decision. “Heavens!” she exclaimed, as she caught a glimpse of herself in her glass. “What a hag I look! I can’t go down in this. It looks like a bedgown. Find me something, Allegro! That red silk will do. I believe everything else is at Weir. You will have to send my things back, for I am going to stay here now. I’ve had enough of Max Wyndham’s tyranny. I must have my own way or I shall rave.”
With impulsive hands she tore off her tumbled muslin dress, and arrayed herself in the flaming evening robe which Olga had once condemned. Olga raised no protest now. She gave her silent assistance. The horrors of that day had so closed in upon her that she felt fantastically convinced that nothing she did or left undone could make any difference, or hinder for the fraction of an instant the fate that so remorselessly pursued them and was surely every moment drawing nearer. The fear at her heart had so wound itself into her very being that she was no longer conscious of it. It possessed her like an evil spell.
So she stood by, sometimes helping, always watching, while her friend’s tragedy leaped from point to point like a spreading forest-fire breeding destruction.