“I am going back to the Priory,” she said. “Shall I take that book, or will you?”
It was capitulation, but he gave no sign that he so much as remembered that there had been a battle. Obviously then her defeat had been a foregone conclusion from the outset.
“You needn’t bicycle back,” he said. “I’ve got the car here. And I’m going to the Priory myself.”
Olga’s eyes opened wide at the announcement. “In—deed!” she said, with somewhat daring significance.
“In—deed!” he responded imperturbably. “Is it a joke?”
She felt herself colouring, and considered it safer to leave the question unanswered. “I can’t go back in our car,” she said. “Violet Campion will be with me, so I have come to fetch Nick’s.”
“Oh—ho!” said Max keenly. “Coming to stay?”
Very curiously she resented his keenness. “I suppose you have no objection,” she said coldly.
“I am enchanted,” he declared. “But why not come with me in the car? If you take the one from here, you will only have to bring it back, for you can’t house it at Weir.”
“But I should have to come back in any case to fetch my bicycle,” Olga pointed out.
“No, you needn’t! Mitchel can ride that home, and you can drive the motor. You can drive, I’m told?”
“Of course, I can. I often drive Dad.” Olga spoke with pride.
“Do you really? Why did you never tell me that before? Afraid I should want you instead of Mitchel?” He looked at her quizzically.
“It wouldn’t make much difference if you did,” said Olga. It was really quite useless to attempt to be polite to him if he would come so persistently within snubbing distance. Besides, she really did not owe him any courtesy, after the way he had dared to treat her.
But he only laughed at her, and turned to the door. “I shouldn’t be so cocksure of that if I were you,” he said, opening it with a flourish. “I have a wonderful knack of getting what I want.”
She flung him the gauntlet of her contemptuous defiance as she passed him. “Really?” she said.
He took it up instantly, with disconcerting assurance. “Yes, really,” he said.
And to Olga all unbidden there came a sudden little tremor of shuddering remembrance as there flashed across her inner vision the spectacle of a green dragon-fly swooping upon a poor little fluttering scarlet moth.
THE SETTING OF THE WATCH
To return to the Priory with her bete-noir seated in triumph beside her was a trick of fortune that Olga had been very far from anticipating. There was no help for it, however, for he was determined to go thither, notwithstanding her assurance that the master of the house was from home. He leaned back at his ease and watched her drive with frank criticism.
“I had no idea you were so accomplished,” he remarked, as they skimmed up the long Priory drive. “I should have thought you were much too nervous to drive a car.”