She gave him her hand with a gesture half-appealing. “We won’t talk about it,” she said. “It just won’t bear talking about.”
Her voice trembled a little but she was plainly anxious that he should not notice it. He stood a moment silent, holding her hand. From the direction of the jungle-road there came the sounds of the approaching party—the rattle of hoofs and jingle of bells mingling with laughing voices and gay shouts. It seemed incredible that a bare ten minutes had elapsed since their own arrival upon the scene.
Noel’s hand tightened a little upon hers. He bent with a certain serious gallantry that became him well, and carried it to his lips.
“My lady’s wishes shall be obeyed always,” he said gravely.
She knew that he meant her to ascribe a full meaning to his words. And she let herself be reassured, for that she knew him now to possess the soul of a hero.
THE MAN WITH THE GUN
In after-days when Olga looked back upon the rest of that Christmas picnic, she could remember very little in detail of what took place. Her mind was so fully occupied with the adventure in the ruined temple that the events immediately following it made but a slight impression upon her.
That they lunched at length by the ancient well, that Nick and the Musgraves petted and made much of her, that Noel considerately amused himself with the care and entertainment of Peggy, all these things she was able afterwards vaguely to recall, but none of them remained vividly in her memory.
During the afternoon she rested, with Daisy sitting by her side and Nick smoking a few yards away, until presently the Rajah rode up unescorted and occupied Nick’s attention for the remainder of the time. He came and shook hands with Olga later and congratulated her on her escape, but his manner seemed to her perfunctory and somewhat absent. Remembering Noel’s words, she wondered what schemes were developing behind those dusky eyes.
Her thoughts, however, did not dwell on him; they were curiously active in another direction. Over and over again she saw herself stumbling over the stones under the cypresses and finding herself all-suddenly face to face with a man in a pith helmet. She was haunted by the thought of him, though she had not in the glare discerned him fully. She had seen him as one sees a shadow on a sheet, a momentary impression, suggestive but wholly elusive, capable of stirring her to the depths but yet too vague to grasp.