“I’m sure I couldn’t, thank you all the same.” Olga’s reply was very prompt. “As to eclipsing me, you’ll do that in any case, whatever you wear.”
Violet looked at her with dancing eyes. “I believe you actually want to be eclipsed! What on earth has the young man been doing? He seems to have scared you very effectually.”
“Oh, I’m not afraid of him!” Olga spoke with her chin in the air. “But I detest him with all my heart, and he detests me.”
“In fact, you are at daggers drawn,” commented Violet. “And you want me to come and divert the enemy’s attention while you strengthen your defences. Well, my dear, as I said before, I’ll come. But—from what I have seen of Dr. Maxwell Wyndham—I don’t think I shall make much impression. If he means to gobble you up, he certainly will do so, whether I interfere or not. I’ve a notion you might do worse, green eyes and red hair notwithstanding. He will probably whip you soundly now and then and put you in the corner till you are good. But you will get to like that in time. And I daresay he will be kind enough to let you lace up his boots for a treat in between whiles.”
Olga’s pale eyes flashed. “You are positively mad this afternoon, Violet!”
“Oh, no, I’m not. I haven’t had a mad spell for a long time. I am only extraordinarily shrewd and far-seeing. Well, dear, what shall I bring to wear? Do you think I shall be appreciated in my red silk? Or will that offend the eye of the virtuous Nick?”
“No, you are not to wear that red thing. Wear white. I like you best in white.”
“Yes, black too. But not colours. You are too beautiful for colours.”
“Ridiculous child! That red thing, as you call it, suits me to perfection.”
“I know it does. But I don’t like it. You make me think of Lady Macbeth in that. Besides, it’s much too splendid for ordinary occasions. Yes, that pale mauve is exquisite. You will look lovely in that. And this maize suits you too. But you look positively dangerous in red.”
“I must leave the business of selection to you, it seems,” laughed Violet. “Well, I am to be your guest, so you shall make your own choice. By the way, how shall I get to Weir? Mrs. Bruce has the car, and will probably not return till late. And Bruce is using the dog-cart. That only leaves the luggage-cart for me.”
“I’ll fly round to Redlands for the motor. Nick won’t mind. You get your things packed while I’m gone.”
Olga deposited an armful of her friend’s belongings upon the bed, and turned to go.
Nick’s property of Redlands was less than a mile away, and all that Nick possessed was at her disposal. In fact, she had almost come to look upon Redlands as a second home. It would not take her long to run across to the garage and fetch the little motor which Nick himself had taught her years ago to drive. Lightly she ran down the oak stairs and through the echoing hall once more. The vault-like chill of the place struck her afresh as she passed to the open door. And again involuntarily she shivered, quickening her steps, eager to leave the clammy atmosphere behind.