Max, sauntering up a little later, took her programme and looked at it with brows slightly raised. He gave it back to her, however, without comment.
Noel was the best dancer in the room, and Olga fully appreciated the fact. She loved Nick’s dancing also, but it always brought to notice his crippled state, a fact which he never seemed to mind, but which she had never wholly ceased to mourn.
It was a great surprise to her to see Will Musgrave on the scene. When he came to her side her programme was full.
“Oh, knock off one of Nick’s!” he said. “I owe him one.”
But she would not do this till Nick’s permission had been obtained and Nick had airily secured Daisy as a substitute.
Her dances with Max were spent chiefly in a very dark corner of the verandah, as he maintained that she was in a highly feverish condition and rest and quiet were essential. There was certainly some truth in the assertion though she indignantly denied it, and the intervals passed thus undoubtedly calmed her and kept her from reaching too high a pitch of excitement.
Max was exceedingly composed and steady. He danced with Daisy Musgrave, and provoked her to exasperation by his sang-froid.
“He is quite detestable,” she told her husband later. “What on earth Olga can see to like in him is a puzzle I can never hope to solve. Noel is worth a hundred of him.”
At which criticism Will laughed aloud. “There is no accounting for woman’s fancies, my dear Daisy. And I must say I think young Noel would prove something of a handful.”
“Anyhow he is human,” retorted Daisy. “But this young man of Olga’s is as self-contained and unapproachable as a camel. I’d rather deal with a sinner than a saint any day.”
“Is Dr. Wyndham a saint?” questioned Will.
She laughed with just a touch of hardness. “A very scientific one, I should say. He has the most merciless eyes I ever saw.”
She expressed this opinion a little later to Nick who took her in to supper, and for once found him in disagreement with her.
“Dearest Daisy,” he said, “you can’t expect a genius to look and behave like an ordinary mortal. That young man is already one of the most brilliant members of his profession. He has practically the world at his feet, and he’d be a fool if he didn’t know it. I quite admit he may be merciless, but he is magnetic too. He can work with his mind as well as his hands, and he is never at a loss. Now that is the sort of man I admire. I think Olga has shown excellent taste.”
“I don’t!” declared Daisy emphatically. “I simply can’t understand it, Nick. He may be an excellent match for her from a worldly point of view, but from a romantic standpoint—” She broke off with an expressive gesture—“I suppose it is a love-match?”
Nick laughed, blinking very rapidly as her eyes sought his. “Look at the kiddie’s face if you want to know! She is as happy as a lark. Also, I seem to remember someone once saying to me that there wasn’t a man in the universe that some woman couldn’t be fool enough to love.”