Silently, with infinite care, Olga helped him.
Nick stood with the knife in his hand. “What are you going to do now?” he said.
Max’s brows went up. “My dear fellow, what do you suppose? I am going to attend to my patient.”
“Where is she?” said Nick.
“Upstairs. Mrs. Briggs went to look after her. I’m going to give her a composing draught,” said Max, plunging his hand into a side-pocket.
“Oh, Max!” exclaimed Olga.
He turned to her. “There will be no repetition of this,” he said grimly. “Miss Campion is exhausted and probably more or less in her right mind by now.”
“But she won’t be if you go to her,” Olga said, and in her eagerness she drew near to him and laid a light hand on his sleeve. “Max, you mustn’t go to her—indeed—indeed. I have promised her that you shall not. As you have seen for yourself, the very sight of you is enough to send her demented.”
“Oh, it’s for her sake, is it?” said Max; but he stood still, suffering her hand on his arm.
Her eyes were raised to his, very earnestly beseeching him. “Yes, for her sake,” she said. “You would do her much more harm than good. Let me take the composing draught to her! Oh, Max, really it is the only way. Please be reasonable!”
Her voice trembled a little. She knew well that where his patients were concerned he would endure no interference. Again and again he had made this clear to her. But this was an exceptional case, and she prayed that as such he might view it.
She wondered a little that Nick did not come to her aid, but he stood aloof as if unwilling to be drawn into the discussion. Max seemed to have completely forgotten his existence.
“Look here,” he said finally. “The matter isn’t so desperate as you seem to think, but if I give in, so must you. There are several questions I shall have to ask, and I must have a clear answer.”
“I will tell you anything in my power,” she said.
“Very well,” he said. “Tell me first—if you can—why Miss Campion hates me so violently.”
His manner was curtly professional. He looked straight into her eyes with cool determination in his own.
She answered him, but her answer did not come very easily. “I think she feels that you have had her under supervision all along, and she resents it.”
“Quite true,” he said. “I have. Is that why she wants to kill me?”
“Not entirely.” Olga was plainly speaking against her will.
But Max was merciless. “And the other reason?”
She locked her fingers very tightly together. “It—it would be a breach of confidence to tell you that,” she said.
“I see,” said Max. “She was annoyed because I didn’t fulfil expectations by falling in love with her. She misunderstood my attitude; was that it? You did so yourself at one time, if I remember aright.”
“Yes,” admitted Olga reluctantly.