“Are you going to take my advice?” asked Hunt-Goring.
She looked up with a start. “What advice?”
“As to maintaining a discreet silence,” he said.
His eyes were half-closed; she could not detect the narrowness of his scrutiny.
“No,” she answered. “I shall certainly speak to Olga. It wouldn’t be right—it wouldn’t be fair—not to do so.” Her look was suddenly appealing. “There is a free-masonry among women as well as men,” she said. “We must keep faith with one another at least.”
Hunt-Goring closed his eyes completely, and smiled a placid smile. “Dear Mrs. Musgrave,” he said, “you are a true woman.”
And she did not hear the note of exultation below the lazy appreciation of his words.
THE SPREADING OF THE FLAME
Certainly Major Hunt-Goring was the last person Olga expected to meet at the Musgraves’ dinner-party that night, and so astounded was she for the moment at the sight of him that she came to a sudden halt on the threshold of the drawing-room.
“Hullo!” murmured Max’s voice behind her. “Here’s a dear old friend!”
Max’s hand gently pushed her forward, and in an instant she had mastered her astonishment. She met the dear old friend with heightened colour indeed, but with no other sign of agitation. He smiled upon her, upon Max, upon Nick, with equal geniality.
“Quite a gathering of old friends!” he remarked.
“Quite,” said Nick. “Have you only just come out?”
“No, I’ve been out some weeks. I came after tiger,” said Hunt-Goring, with his eyes on Olga, who had passed on to her host.
“You won’t find any in this direction,” said Nick. “Wyndham bagged the last survivor on Christmas Day, and a mangy old brute it was.”
“I daresay I shall come across other game,” said Hunt-Goring, bringing his eyes slowly back to Nick.
Nick laughed. “It’s not particularly plentiful here. You’ll find it a waste of time hunting in these parts.”
“Oh, I have plenty of time at my disposal,” smiled Hunt-Goring.
Nick’s eyes flickered over him. He also was smiling. “Perseverance deserves to be rewarded,” he said.
“And usually is,” said Hunt-Goring. He held out his hand to Max. “Ah, Dr. Wyndham, I’m delighted to meet you again. You will be gratified to hear that, thanks to your skilful treatment, my thumb has mended quite satisfactorily.”
Max looked at the hand critically; he did not offer to take it. “I am—greatly gratified,” he said.
Hunt-Goring withdrew it, still smiling. “May I congratulate you on your engagement,” he said.
Max’s mouth went down ironically. “Certainly if you feel so disposed,” he said.
Hunt-Goring laughed easily. “You young fellows have all the luck,” he said. “When do you expect to be married?”