“It’s all right,” he said again. “Well over. As satisfactory as it could possibly be. Now don’t be silly!” Surely it was the Max of old times speaking! “Pull up while you can! Come in here and sit down for a minute! I am going to take you to see him directly.”
That last remark did more towards restoring Olga’s self-control than any of the preceding ones. She went with him submissively, making strenuous efforts to preserve her composure. She even took without a murmur the wineglass of sal volatile with which he presented her.
Max stood beside her, still holding one of her hands, his fingers grasping her wrist, and talked over her head to Nick.
“Absolutely normal in every way. Came round without the least trouble. He’ll be on his legs again in a fortnight. Of course we shan’t turn him loose for a month, and he will have to live in the dark. But he ought to be absolutely sound in six weeks from now.”
“And—he will see?” whispered Olga.
Max bent and laid her hand down. He looked at her closely for a moment. “Yes,” he said. “There is no reason why he shouldn’t make a complete recovery. Are you all right now? I promised to let him have a word with you.”
She stood up. “Yes, I am quite all right. Let us go!”
Her knees still felt weak, but she steadied them resolutely. They went out side by side.
In silence Max piloted her. When they reached the darkened room he took her hand again and led her forward. The cheerful Irish nurse was at the bedside, but she drew away at their approach. And Olga found herself standing above a swathed, motionless figure in hushed expectancy of she knew not what.
The hand that held hers made as if to withdraw itself, but she clung to it suddenly and convulsively, and it closed again.
“All right,” said Max’s leisurely tones. “He’s a bit sleepy still. Noel!” He bent, still holding her hand. “I’ve brought Olga, old chap, as I promised. Say good-night to her, won’t you?”
The voice was the voice of Max Wyndham, but its tenderness seemed to rend her heart. She could have wept for the pain of it, but she knew she must not weep.
The figure in the bed stirred, murmured an incoherent apology, seemed to awake.
“Oh, is Olga there?” said Noel drowsily. “Take care of her, Max, old boy! Make her as happy as you can! She’s awfully—fond—of you—though I’m not—supposed—to know.”
The voice trailed off, sank into unconsciousness. Max’s hand had tightened to a hard grip. He straightened himself and spoke, coldly, grimly.
“He isn’t quite himself yet. I’m afraid I’ve brought you on a fool’s errand. You can kiss him if you like. He probably won’t know.”
But Olga could not. She turned from the bed with the gesture of one who could bear no more, and without further words he led her from the room.