She was roused by Nick scratching seductively at her window from the verandah, and, admitting him, she found him waiting to present a jeweller’s box which contained a string of moonstones exquisitely set in silver. It was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen, and she was delighted with it.
Through the medium of her ayah she had purchased a carved sandal-wood box from the bazaar for Nick, which she now presented, modestly hoping he didn’t hate the smell.
“I adore it,” declared Nick, sniffing it loudly. “It’s just the East to me. I shall steep my ties in it. Many thanks, Olga mia! Thine ancient uncle values the gift for the sake of the giver.” He kissed her, and sat down on the edge of the bed, dangling his feet in a pair of violently coloured Oriental slippers. “I see His Excellency has sent us a thing like a clothes-basket full of fruit. Very kind of him, but a trifle overwhelming. There is no mail in yet, but some local parcels have arrived which the khit is sorting with the face of a judge. Ah, here comes your little lot!” as the ayah softly opened the door. “Shall I remove myself?”
“Of course not, Nick! Smoke a cigarette while I open them. They can’t be anything very much.”
The ayah, smiling broadly, laid two parcels on the table by Olga’s bedside. A third one, which was very small, she dropped with a mysterious gesture into her hand.
“What can this be?” questioned Olga. “Sambaji, what is it?”
But Sambaji shook her head. “Miss sahib, how should I know?”
Olga suddenly turned crimson. She held out the tiny packet to Nick.
“You open it!” she said. “I’m sure it’s something I don’t want.”
Nick made no movement to take it! “Sorry, dear. Two hands are better than one,” he said.
Sambaji withdrew, still smiling.
Olga looked at the thing in the palm of her hand. She was trembling a little. “I don’t want it, Nick,” she said almost piteously.
Nick was heartless enough to laugh.
“Don’t!” she pleaded, real distress in her tone. “Can’t I send it back unopened?”
“Whom do you propose to send it to?” asked Nick, still chuckling.
She smiled faintly in spite of herself. “It’s pretty certain where it comes from, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” said Nick.
“Well, isn’t it?” she persisted, still dubiously eyeing the unwelcome gift.
“I really can’t say. But I don’t see why you should be afraid of it in any case. To judge by the size of it, I shouldn’t say it could be a very dangerous explosive.”
She smiled again with obvious reluctance, and began to study the address on the packet. It was written in a very minute hand.
There followed a pause; then with abrupt resolution Olga’s fingers began to work at the outer covering.
Nick watched her, amusement on his yellow face. “I’m not quite sure that two hands are better than one when they shake like that,” he observed. “Ah, here comes the dedication!” as a tiny strip of paper fluttered from Olga’s fingers. “It reminds me—vividly—of my own courtship. Quite sure you don’t want me to go?”