The old soldier came out of his reverie, and met her eyes. He smiled at her, albeit his own were grave. “He is extremely shrewd and capable,” he said. “I do not think there is much likelihood of his being taken unawares.”
“But it is dangerous?” Olga insisted.
“There is a certain amount of risk certainly.” Gravely he admitted the fact. “But I think you need not be over-anxious,” he added, with a kindly smile. “Nick is one of those clever people who always manage to win through somehow. They always used to say of him on the Frontier that he bore a charmed life. He has a positive genius for wriggling out of tight corners.”
He wished to reassure her, she saw; but somehow she did not feel reassured. The conviction was growing upon her that Nick was exposing himself to a danger that would have appalled her had she realized it to its fullest extent.
She said no more to Sir Reginald, but her heart sank. The clouds were gathering thicker and ever thicker on her horizon. She did not dare to look forward any more.
“I say, you’re magnificent!” said Noel. His hand closed tightly upon Olga’s with the words. He looked her up and down with a free admiration too boyish to be offensive. “You’re an absolute darling in that get-up!” he told her with enthusiasm.
It was impossible to be indignant. Olga tried and failed. She had not been aware till that moment that she was making a particularly brave show in her eighteenth-century costume, with her pink satin finery and powdered hair. But there was no mistaking the adulation in the boy’s eyes, and even in the midst of her misery she felt a little glow of gratification. He was looking alluringly disreputable in his highwayman’s dress, and the dark eyes shone upon her with fascinating audacity as he lifted her hand to his lips.
“So you haven’t brought Nick with you?” he said, speaking with laughing haste to cut short her half-hearted rebuke.
“No, Nick was called away,” she said. “He’ll come later if he can.”
“Called away, was he?” Noel paused, with her programme in his hand. “Is that what you are looking so worried about?”
She tried to laugh. “Yes, I am rather worried about him. I am afraid he is taking—big risks.”
“Little idiot!” said Noel. “When he’s got you to look after. But what do you mean by risks? Where has he gone?”
“I don’t know,” she said, with a shake of the head. “I don’t know anything, Noel. He said something about going to see a moonstone, but I think that was only a blind. He can be rather subtle, you know, when he likes.”
“Confound him!” said Noel. “Why doesn’t he turn his attention to taking care of you? I’ve been wanting to have a talk to you for days, but I couldn’t work it somehow.”
Olga held out her hand for her programme; it shook ever so slightly. “I don’t think we have anything very important to talk about,” she said.