“He doesn’t care!” said Daisy scathingly. “Geniuses haven’t time to be human.”
“I wonder,” said Will.
He knew, and had never ceased to regret, his wife’s share in the accomplishment of Max’s discomfiture; and he fancied that secretly, her antipathy notwithstanding, she had begun to regret it also.
He changed the subject, and they went on to talk of Noel.
“Olga tells me that they think of operating next Sunday,” Daisy said. “How anxious she will be, poor girl! I am thankful she has Nick and Muriel to take care of her. It has been a terrible time for her all through.”
“Poor child!” said Will compassionately.
He shrewdly suspected that the time that lay ahead of Olga would be harder to face than any she had yet experienced.
Olga herself had already begun to realize that. Noel’s refusal to consider her suggestion had surprised and disappointed her. She had not anticipated his refusal, though she fully understood it and respected him for it. But it made matters infinitely more difficult for her. She longed for the time when Max’s part should be done and he should have passed finally out of her life. Not that he intruded upon her in any way. He scarcely so much as glanced in her direction; but his very presence was a perpetual trial to her. She had a feeling that the green eyes were watching continually for some sign of weakness, even though they never looked her way.
Nick was a great comfort to her in those days, but she felt that even he did not wholly grasp the difficulties of the situation. He supported her indeed, but he did not realize precisely where lay the strain. And it was the same with Dr. Jim. He had accepted her engagement without demur after a gruff enquiry as to whether she loved the fellow. But he had not asked for any details, and had made no reference to her former engagement. She supposed that he found out all he wanted to know on this subject from Nick; and she was grateful for his forbearance, albeit, after a woman’s fashion, slightly hurt by it.
She had not, however, much time for reflection of any sort during those first days in town. Noel occupied all her thoughts.
On the day before that fixed for the operation, he went into a private nursing-home. He was extremely cheery over all the preparations, and made himself exceedingly popular with his nurses before he had been more than a few hours in the place.
Even Max was somewhat surprised by the boy’s fund of high spirits, and Sir Kersley openly expressed his admiration.
“You Wyndhams are a very remarkable family,” he said to Max that night.
Max smiled sardonically in recognition of the compliment. “But the boy has more backbone than I thought,” he admitted. “I don’t think he will give us much trouble after all, thanks to Olga.”
“Ah!” Sir Kersley said. “You think this is due to her?”