The visit to the Priory occupied some time, as Olga had foreseen. There were some things that Violet wanted to fetch from her own room and this entailed a search, for her possessions were always in the wildest disorder. Olga waited for her in the hall, chafing at the delay, since she knew that the car would be required by Max early in the afternoon to take him on his rounds.
Mitchel remained outside in the hot sunshine, severe disapproval in every line of him. Olga felt decidedly out of patience with him. As if it were her fault!
She sat on the old oak chest that Violet gaily called her coffin, and stared at the gruesome east window, while her thoughts dwelt upon the story she had just heard from Mrs. Briggs’s lips. Had Max really intended to place freedom within the old woman’s reach? For some reason wholly inexplicable she longed to know. She recalled the words he had uttered that day in the library of Redlands, his half-cynical talk of “a free pass,” his reference to himself as “gaoler.” Was it possible that she had formed a wrong impression of him? And if in this matter, perhaps in others also. Perhaps after all she had mistaken his attitude towards Violet. Perhaps after all he was human enough to feel the strong attraction of the girl’s beauty. Perhaps after all he was beginning to care. And if so, what then? She felt her face burn in the coolness. Somehow she did not want him to be hurt, to suffer as she knew that other men had been made to suffer by the gay inconsequence of her friend. Only a week ago she had desired his ignominious downfall. To-day she wanted to save him from it. She had a desperate longing to warn him that Violet’s favour was a thing of nought, that her treatment of him had all been planned between them beforehand, that it was all a game.
She could not picture him at any woman’s feet. Yet undoubtedly Violet was hard to resist; their intimacy had grown apace during the past few days. And Violet knew so well how to wield her power, when to scorn and when subtly to flatter. She had never yet received a check in her triumphant career, and she boasted openly of her conquests.
No, Olga was fain to admit it. All her own private aversion notwithstanding, she did not want this man added to the list of victims. Cynical and even overbearing though he might be, she no longer desired to see him humiliated. And her face glowed more and more hotly as she remembered that it was she who had set the trap.