“Yes. You must go, dear. I’m sure Muriel is wanting you. I’ve monopolized you long enough. You—you’ll tell Noel, won’t you? Is he all right?”
“At the very top of his form,” said Nick.
She smiled. “I’m so very glad. Give him my love, Nick, my—my best love.”
“I will,” said Nick. He stood up. “He’s a fine chap—Noel,” he said. “He deserves the best, and I hope—some day—he’ll get it.”
With which enigmatical remark, he wheeled and left her.
THE MAN’S POINT OF VIEW
That letter to Max was perhaps the hardest task that Olga had ever undertaken. She spent the greater part of three hours over it, oblivious of everything else; and then, close upon the dinner-hour, tore up all previous efforts in despair and scribbled a brief, informal note that was curiously reminiscent of one she had written once in a moment of impulsive penitence and pinned inside his hat.
“Dear Max,” it ran, “I want to tell you that everything has come back to me, and I am very, very sorry. Will you forgive me and let us be friends for the future? Yours, Olga.”
This letter she addressed and stamped and took downstairs with her, laying it upon the hall-table to be posted. Thence she passed on to the library to find a book she wanted.
The glow of sunset met her on the threshold, staying the hand she raised to the electric switch. She moved slowly through the dying light to the window and stood before it motionless, gazing forth into the glory. It poured around her in a rosy splendour, lighting her pale, tired face. For several minutes she stood drinking in the beauty of it, with a feeling at her heart as of unshed tears.
Then at last with a long sigh she slowly turned, and moved across to a row of bookshelves. Perhaps there was light enough for her purpose after all. She began to search along the backs of the books with her face close to them.
“Are you looking for Farrow’s Treatise on Party Government by any chance?” asked a leisurely voice behind her.
She sprang round as if a gun had been discharged in the room. She stared widely, feeling back against the bookshelves for support.
He was lounging on the edge of the table immediately facing her—a square strong figure, with hands in his pockets, the red light of the sunset turning his hair to fire.
“Because if you are,” he continued, a note of grim humour in his voice, “I’m afraid you won’t find it—to-night. What’s the matter with you, fair lady? You don’t seem quite pleased to see me.”
“I am pleased,” she whispered. “I am pleased.”
But her voice was utterly gone. Her throat worked spasmodically. She put up both hands to it as if she were choking.
He stood up abruptly and came to her. He took her hands and drew them gently away. “I shall begin to think I’m bad for you if you do that,” he said. “What’s the matter, child? Did I frighten you?”