“On Midsummer Day,” said Max.
“Really!” Hunt-Goring’s laugh was silken in its softness. “Your plans are all cut and dried then. Yet, you know, ‘there’s many a slip,’ etc.”
“Not under my management,” said Max.
He looked hard and straight into the other man’s eyes, and turned aside.
Nick had already joined his hostess, and was making gay conversation about nothing in particular.
Noel came in late, acknowledged everyone with a deep salaam, and attached himself instantly to Olga.
With relief she found that he was to take her in to dinner. He was in a mood of charming inconsequence, and under his easy guidance she gradually recovered from the shock of her enemy’s appearance on the scene.
“I hear on the best authority that General Bassett is expected in a fortnight,” he told her. “We are going to treat him royally. You ladies will have to work hard.”
“Max will be on his way Home by then,” said Olga, with a sigh.
He laughed. “Well, I shall be left, and I shan’t let you grizzle. We must organize a fete week. You and I will be the head of the committee. I’ll come round to-morrow, and we’ll draw up a plan to submit to old Badgers; merely a matter of form, you know. He’ll consent to anything. We will have a fancy-dress ball for one thing, and a picnic or two, and some races and gymkhanas. Perhaps we might manage some private theatricals.”
“Oh, we couldn’t possibly!” protested Olga. “We could never get anything up in time.”
But Noel was not to be discouraged. He proceeded to sketch out a lavish programme of entertainments with such energy and ingenuity that at length he managed to infuse her with some of his enthusiasm, and the end of dinner came upon her as a surprise.
Will, Hunt-Goring, Max, and Nick sat down to play bridge when it was finally over—at the suggestion of Hunt-Goring, who displayed not the smallest desire to seek her out. It seemed as though all memory of their former relations had passed completely from his mind. Neither by word nor look did he attempt to recall old times.
And gradually Olga became reassured. His fancy for her had quite obviously evaporated. He scarcely so much as glanced her way.
Could it have been mere coincidence that had brought him there? she began to ask herself. Stranger things had happened; and he was plainly on intimate terms with his hostess, rather more intimate than Daisy’s manner seemed to justify. But then familiarity with women was one of his main characteristics, as she knew but too well. He had not been able to exercise this much at Weir. She suspected that boredom alone had induced him to pursue her so persistently.
In any case, it was over. He cared for her no more and was at no pains to conceal the fact, which she on her part recognized with profound relief.
She went with Daisy to the drawing-room, leaving the card-players established in Will’s especial den. Noel airily accompanied them, and sang a few songs at the piano, as much for his own pleasure as theirs. He was in a particularly charming mood, and was evidently determined to enjoy himself to the utmost.