Even to her own secret heart she could not account for the wild suspicion to which that lightning glimpse had given birth. The man was probably a very ordinary Briton under ordinary circumstances. That he had a breadth of shoulder that imparted the impression of power and somewhat discounted his height, that his first appearance had been so leisurely that he might have been strolling in an English garden—the sauntering vision flashed across her as she had often seen it, hands deep in pockets, and stubby brier-pipe between his teeth—that his brevity of speech had impelled her to clearness of brain and prompt reply—all these were but incidents that might have characterized the coming of any stranger. And yet whenever she recalled any one of these details, she found her heart beating up against her throat as though it would choke her.
And why had he disappeared so suddenly, this stranger with the gun? How she wished she had had the presence of mind to turn back into the temple to find him! Why had Noel spoken of him with such evident restraint? Had he been under orders so to speak? She almost resolved to ask him, but realized immediately that for some reason she could not. Besides, had he not said she would see him again? And when she saw him—when she saw him—again she had to still the tumult of her heart—doubtless she would tell herself how utterly unreasonable her agitation concerning him had been. She would make the acquaintance of a total stranger and wonder how he had ever reminded her of the one man in her world who alone had had the power to move her thus.
So, over and over again she reassured herself, considering the matter and dismissing it, only to admit it over and over again for further consideration.
Nick made unflattering comment upon her jaded appearance when the time came to return, and bundled her unceremoniously into the Musgraves’ dog-cart before Noel could put in a claim. Olga was in some sense relieved, for she did not want to talk, and Daisy fully understood and left her in peace during the drive back to Sharapura.
The brief twilight came upon them just before they reached their destination, and when they stopped before the bungalow it was nearly dark. The stately khitmutgar was waiting for them, and helped Olga to descend. He stood by with massive patience while the Musgraves bade her farewell and drove away; then with extreme dignity he addressed her.
“There is a strange sahib in the drawing-room, who waits to see the Miss sahib,” he said.
Olga’s heart gave a wild bound. “To see me? What name, Kasur?”
“Miss sahib, he gave no name. ‘She knows me,’ he said. ’I will announce myself.’”
Olga turned to the verandah steps, as if drawn thereto by some unseen magnetic force. Sedately Kasur followed.
“Will the Miss sahib await the return of Ratcliffe sahib?” he suggested decorously.