“But you have!” she said.
He held her in his arms again. He kissed her drooping lips. “Well, if I have,” he said, “it’s the faithful wound of a friend. Can’t you forgive it?”
That Max should ever ask forgiveness was amazing. Her bitterness went out like the flare of a match. She laid her head against his neck.
“Max—dear, I didn’t mean to be horrid!”
“You couldn’t be if you tried,” he said.
She clung faster to him. “How can you say so? I’ve hardly ever been anything else to you.”
“When are you going to reform?” said Max, with his lips against her forehead.
“Now,” said Olga into his neck.
“Really?” Max’s voice came down to her very softly. “Then—won’t you say Yes to the Midsummer Day project?”
She was silent for a little, as if considering the matter or summoning her resolution. Then with sudden impulse she lifted her face fully to his.
“Yes, Max,” she said.
A LETTER FROM AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE
It was universally acknowledged that the Rajah’s Prime Minister, Kobad Shikan, was the most magnificent figure on the polo-ground that afternoon. The splendour of his attire was almost dazzling. He literally glittered with jewels. And his snow-white beard added very greatly to the general brilliance of his appearance. It was not his custom to attend social gatherings at all. Unlike the Rajah, he was by no means British in his tastes; and he never wore European costume. At the same time no one had ever detected any anti-British sentiments in him. He walked with such extreme wariness that no one actually knew what his sentiments were.
Why he had decided to grace the occasion with his presence was a matter for conjecture. Owing possibly to his habitual reticence, he was no favourite with the English portion of the community. Daisy Musgrave had nicknamed him Bluebeard long since, and Peggy firmly believed that somewhere in the depths of the Rajah’s Palace this old man kept his chamber of horrors.
“What on earth has he come for, Nick?” murmured Olga, as they found places in the pavilion.
Nick laughed, a baffling laugh. “I asked him to come,” he said.
“You, Nick! Why?”
He frowned at her. “Don’t ask questions, little girl! Ah, that’s a fine pony down there! Ye gods! What wouldn’t I give to have another fling at the game!”
“Oh, but you never must!” said Olga quickly. “I couldn’t bear you to take that risk indeed.”
“You’d like to wrap me up in cotton-wool and seal me in a safe,” laughed Nick.
“No; but, Nick, you are so reckless,” she said, with loving eyes upon him. “It would be madness, wouldn’t it, Max?”
Max’s shrewd look rested for a moment on his host. “Little gods sometimes accomplish what mere mortals would never dream of attempting,” he said. “How soon do you expect to be Viceroy, Nick?”