“I’m not. That’s just how my wife fell in love with me. I assure you it often begins that way.” Nick shook his head wisely. “I should take steps to be nice to him if I were you, before the mischief spreads.”
Olga tossed her head. She was slightly flushed. “I shall never make a fool of myself over any man, Nick,” she said. “I’m quite determined on that point.”
“Dear, dear!” said Nick. “How old did you say you were?”
“I am woman enough to know my own mind,” said Olga.
“Heaven forbid!” said Nick. “You wouldn’t be a woman at all if you did that.”
“I don’t think you are a good judge on that subject, Nick,” remarked his niece judiciously. “In fact, even Dr. Wyndham knows better than that. I assure you the antipathy is quite mutual. He regards everyone who isn’t desperately ill as superfluous and uninteresting. He was absolutely disappointed the other day because, when I slipped on the stairs, I didn’t break any bones.”
“What a fiend!” said Nick.
“And yet Dad likes him,” said Olga. “I can’t understand it. The poor people like him too in a way. Isn’t it odd? They seem to have such faith in him.”
“I believe Jim has faith in him,” remarked Nick. “He wouldn’t turn him loose on his patients if he hadn’t.”
“Of course, Sir Kersley Whitton recommended him,” conceded Olga. “And he is an absolutely wonderful man, Dad says. He calls him the greatest medicine-man in England. He took up Max Wyndham years ago, when he was only a medical student. And he has been like a father to him ever since. In fact, I don’t believe Dr. Wyndham would ever have come here if Sir Kersley hadn’t made him. He was overworked and wouldn’t take a rest, so Sir Kersley literally forced him to come and be Dad’s assistant for a while. He told Dad that he was too brilliant a man to stay long in the country, and Dad gathered that he contemplated making him his own partner in the course of time. The sooner the better, I should say. He obviously thinks himself quite thrown away on the likes of us.”
“Altogether he seems to be a very interesting young man,” said Nick. “I must really cultivate his acquaintance. Is he going to be present to-night?”
“Oh, I suppose so. It’s a great drawback having him living in the house. You see, being his hostess, I have to be more or less civil to him. It’s very horrid,” said Olga, upon whom, in consequence of her mother’s death three years before, the duties of housekeeper had devolved. “And Dad is so fearfully strict too. He won’t let me be the least little bit rude, though he is often quite rude himself. You know Dad.”
“I know him,” said Nick. “He’s licked me many a time, bless his heart, and richly I deserved it. Help me to get out of this like a good kid! I see James the Second and the twins awaiting me on the tennis-court. I promised them a sett after tea.”
He rolled on to his feet with careless agility, his one arm encircling his young niece’s shoulders.